Story Highlights Prime Minister Andrew Holness has assured all Jamaicans and stakeholders that the Government is committed to protecting the environment and ensuring environmental sustainability. For the first time in Jamaica’s history, in 2017, Prime Minister Holness announced in Parliament the designated Cockpit Country Protected Area. Speaking yesterday (June 5) during a tour of the Cockpit Country and to place the first marker designating the protected area of the Cockpit Country, Prime Minister Holness said he is always sympathetic to the environmental cause. Prime Minister Andrew Holness has assured all Jamaicans and stakeholders that the Government is committed to protecting the environment and ensuring environmental sustainability.Speaking yesterday (June 5) during a tour of the Cockpit Country and to place the first marker designating the protected area of the Cockpit Country, Prime Minister Holness said he is always sympathetic to the environmental cause.For the first time in Jamaica’s history, in 2017, Prime Minister Holness announced in Parliament the designated Cockpit Country Protected Area.In 2018, the Government began a process of ground-truthing to map the specific areas on the ground. That process is expected to be completed in 2020.The Cockpit Country is part of the protected Forest reserve areas in Jamaica. However, Prime Minister Holness says the Government has gone further to ensure the Cockpit Country is specifically protected.“There is a certain level of protection. But you want to have explicit protection particularly as it relates where can be mined and where cannot be mined. Government’s commitment and declaration still stands. There will be no mining in the area designated as the Cockpit Country protected area,” said Prime Minister Holness.The Prime Minister noted that he has heard the concerns of residents in the Cockpit Country areas concerning mining and other activities. He said the Government is committed to ensuring a sustainable solution is found.“It is never a simple issue. It is a complex one that we have to spend the time to ensure that we get it right. But at the end of the day, we will come up with a sustainable solution. You can be assured that this Government is not running away from the problem or hiding somewhere, I am right here discussing the issue,” assured Prime Minister Holness.Ground truthing is taking place over a 76,000 hectre expanse of land across the mountainous regions of five parishes in the area designated as the protected Cockpit Country.Prime Minister Holness said it is a very involved process that will take time. He assured residents and stakeholders that there are common areas of agreement for placing boundaries, which the Government will act on.“I believe there is still substantial agreement (on the boundaries). I didn’t say there is universal agreement or that everybody agrees. But Government has to act. And in a democracy, the Government tries to act when we have (in most cases) majority agreement. I think what we have, substantially satisfies the major concerns. There are issues which we are going to resolve. There are issues we are going to hear and discuss. But I think what I am hearing from all stakeholders is, where you have agreement already to protect, move fast to protect those areas. What we have settled on, let us protect it,” said Prime Minister Holness.The European Union has partnered with the Government to provide 16.5 million Euros to fund, over a four-year period, the forest management and conservation plan of the Forestry Department. This includes the current ground truthing exercise in the Cockpit Country.
Construction is to begin by December on 623 new solutions under the Shooter’s Hill Housing Development project in Portmore, St. Catherine at a cost of $7 billion.This is being facilitated through a joint venture agreement between the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) and Rite Solutions Development Company.Under the public-private partnership, affordable housing solutions, starting at $7.6 million, will be built on 157 acres of elevated land, primarily for low-and middle-income earners.The development is in keeping with measures by the Government to address the deficit of approximately 20,000 housing solutions yearly.Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who signed the agreement along with principals of HAJ and Right Solutions at Jamaica House on Thursday (Aug. 8), said the costs of the units to be provided are “fairly reasonable,” especially for young professionals.“I think these are very affordable. I can see the young nurse, the young policeman, the young university graduate immediately just waiting to get one of these (units).“I want them to know, those persons who are leaving university, a year or two out of university, getting themselves settled, that the Government understands. We know what your ambitions are and we are putting in place the necessary programmes to allow you to achieve your goal of owning your own home,” he said.The Prime Minister noted that the lowering of the interest rates to zero for National Housing Trust (NHT) contributors, who earn $15,000 or less per week, has increased demand for housing.“We have made the market bigger and now we are…ensuring that we are actually putting solutions on the market,” he said.For his part, HAJ Chairman, Norman Brown, said that Shooter’s Hill “with its elevated location, panoramic views and gentle breeze, will undoubtedly add a new dimension to HAJ’s suite of housing projects in Portmore for which the market eagerly awaits.”“We fully expect this project to be completed on time and within budget as this is the standard we have set for ourselves,” he added.In his remarks, Attorney-at-law and General Counsel, Rite Solutions, Christopher Honeywell, hailed the partnership with the HAJ “in the provision of affordable and good quality housing solutions.”He noted that Cabinet was instrumental in providing the guidance and leadership that went into the structuring of the joint venture agreement, “which ensured a speedy, and efficient take off” of the project.The Shooter’s Hill Housing Development, which is to be done on a phased basis over a three-year period, will be a gated community featuring communal play areas, commercial space and a police post. Phase one will have the lower priced solutions, while phase two will have solutions with higher prices and more upscale finishes.With lot sizes ranging from 4,000 square feet to 6,500 square feet, the development will comprise 100 one-bedroom starter units at a cost of $7.6 million; 200 two-bedrooms, one bathroom for $11.5 million to $12.5 million; 220 two-bedrooms, two bathrooms ranging from $13.5 million to $14.5 million; and 103 three bedroom split-level units at $17.5 million.There will be water storage on site, and each unit will have a solar water heater.This public-private partnership entails the ‘design, build and finance’ model, where the HAJ puts up the land as equity along with its technical, legal and marketing skills, and the partner will design, build and finance the development, which the HAJ will sell and share the profits. This is being facilitated through a joint venture agreement between the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) and Rite Solutions Development Company. Construction is to begin by December on 623 new solutions under the Shooter’s Hill Housing Development project in Portmore, St. Catherine at a cost of $7 billion. Story Highlights Under the public-private partnership, affordable housing solutions, starting at $7.6 million, will be built on 157 acres of elevated land, primarily for low-and middle-income earners.