WATCH: PM tells critics not to ridicule orderly housing development Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has implored critics of the Government’s plans for the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Project, to not disparage orderly housing development.

While stating that he is not opposed to the former sugar lands being subdivided and given to the descendants of slaves as a form of reparations, he said this must be done in an orderly and fair way.

“Who are the people who will inhabit the new Greater Bernard Development Project?

“It will still be the children, grandchildren, great, great grandchildren of the people who toiled as enslaved on this plantation, but it will be done in an orderly way, in a fair way, in a way that will guarantee a legacy for their children and grandchildren to come,” declared Holness.

He was speaking at Tuesday’s land-marking ceremony for the first Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Academy that is being developed by the National Education Trust and the Ministry of Education and Youth in Dunbeholden, Bernard Lodge, St Catherine.

Holness has been facing backlash for his order authorising the demolition of unfinished housing structures on agricultural lands near Clifton that formed part of the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Project.

Among those criticising the prime minister’s decision is the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP), which has promised to assist the affected residents in taking legal action over the destruction of the structures.

However, Holness has fired back, contending that the lands were being taken and sold by members of the Clansman gang. So far, Suelyn Ward-Brown, a school principal, has been charged in relation to the illegal sale of lands.

On Tuesday, Holness again explained the plans for order relative to housing that the Government is seeking to embark on locally in the area.

“So let us not disparage orderly development. Let us not seek to cast it as being unfair, and let us not believe that it is only one set of people in Jamaica who has the moral conscience for right and wrong,” Holness contended.

In noting the views expressed on various platforms in the public domain that the land should be divided and given to farmers, Holness said: “I am not opposed to that”.

Continuing, he said: “I believe that as a part of the reparations for sugar and enslavement, that Government ought to take a very enlightened and proactive approach in ensuring that the average Jamaican gets access to land.

“But how do we do this? Do we just leave up the land and people go and settle on it, and then afterwards we come in and try to say, ‘Alright, let me move your boundary from where you had staked back 10 feet so that I can put a road for you, sewer there for you’, or ah may have to ask you to relocate from here to go elsewhere.

“Is that how it should be done?” asked the prime minister, adding that “There are those who feel it should be done like that.

However, he said the Government took an enlightened approach and acted before “chaos was allowed to reign”, by maintaining order in the distribution of land.

He said the lands in the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Project will not only be reserved for housing, but also for agriculture, commerce and education.

Approximately 1,000 acres will go to farmers, with 22 acres being reserved for social services, including a school.

In addition, lands have also been reserved for light industrial development within area.

“You are going to have a diversity of housing options here. We have reserved 100 acres of land for the NHT (National Housing Trust) and the HAJ (Housing Agency of Jamaica), to build houses that are accessible to those who fall within the low-income earning bracket.

“So this is not just going to be a place where only middle-income and upper-income (persons) will be able to live.

“The Government has given the land, not sold it. So the cost of the units will not have the cost of the land in it, and therefore, the prices will be lower,” stated Holness.