Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie has announced that more than 5,000 residents across six rural communities are to benefit from major water supply projects at a cost of $135 million.
The minister made the announcement during his contribution to the 2023/24 sectoral debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (May 30).
He said the works, details of which are being finalised, will be undertaken by Rural Water Supply Limited (RWSL).
The beneficiary communities include Bangor Ridge and Cornwall Barracks in Portland, Pear Tree Grove in St Catherine, and Maybole in St Elizabeth.
The latest initiative will add to the works already implemented by the RWSL at Watermount and Penn/Lucky Valley in St Catherine, Portland Cottage and Rocky Point in Clarendon, and Comma/Mango Valley in St Mary, at a combined cost of $446 million.
Minister McKenzie told the House that “20,000 people in these communities are now enjoying reliable access to potable water”, while adding that the RWSL has also rehabilitated catchment tanks and installed rainwater harvesting systems in various communities and schools across the country.
He reminded members that rural water has now moved to the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation to expand the network of water service that the government will be embarking on over the next two years.
McKenzie commended the work done by the RWSL in bringing water to rural communities while under the purview of the local government ministry, noting that the entity is a “gift to the country”.
ASSESSING THE CURRENT STRUCTURE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Meanwhile, McKenzie also announced that a committee will be established to assess the structure of local government and make recommendations for improvements.
“One of the responsibilities that I inherited in managing the local government system is to look at the strengths and weaknesses and to determine the measures that must be taken to strengthen and to make local government better,” he said.
He indicated that the committee will involve former and current local government practitioners, and others.
In addition, the minister told the House that he will address shortly, the matter of Portmore becoming Jamaica’s 15th parish.