Positive for Portmore

Positive for Portmore

Wider roads, more water, additional street lights and a new four-lane bridge among spin-offs touted from planned Bernard Lodge development

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, February 15, 2020

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THE Government's point man for the planned massive residential, agricultural, commercial and light industries development in the Bernard Lodge area of St Catherine, Daryl Vaz, is adamant that it will redound to the benefit of current residents of Portmore.

Vaz has also scoffed at claims that the Andrew Holness Administration has reneged on assurances it gave to stakeholders in Portmore that there would be wide consultation ahead of any approval of the revised Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan.

During a media briefing at Jamaica House yesterday to launch the master plan, Vaz argued that there have been extensive consultations so far with even more discussions scheduled to be held with residents of the formal and informal communities around the Bernard Lodge area.

“The development will improve several areas of infrastructure in Portmore, including the provision of potable water, sewerage, waste management, and drainage, road rehabilitation in the Greater Portmore area, aquifer protection and regularisation of agricultural lots.

“The master plan will not take away from existing communities but will enhance the infrastructural legacy deficit which exists through development which is a part of its remit,” said Vaz.

He added that with the Bernard Lodge development being the largest in the area for many years, rehabilitation works will be carried out on specific areas within the Greater Portmore area.

“Work will be carried out on Grange Lane, Dunbeholden Main Road, Passagefort Drive and Dyke Road intersection and the Bernard Lodge Main Road.

“The scope of the work will include adding traffic signals, increasing the number of lanes, adding pedestrian crossings, rehabilitation of corridors, installation of sidewalks and street lights and the construction of a four-lane bridge across Highway 2000 East West,” said Vaz.

“This development will be transformation for Portmore and sections of St Catherine and will be the start of a smart city,” added Vaz.

On Thursday, Fitz Jackson, the Member of Parliament for St Catherine South, which includes a portion of Bernard Lodge, bashed the Government for what he said was its failure to keep its promise to have wide consultation with stakeholders ahead of any approval of the revised master plan.

“As the Member of Parliament whose constituency is a part of the Bernard Lodge area, I consider myself a stakeholder making representation on behalf of the thousands of residents who would be affected by any proposed development. I have never been consulted on any revisions or changes made...,” said Jackson.

“The broader Portmore community, which will be significantly affected by the scale of the proposed Bernard Lodge development, has not been consulted,” charged Jackson.

But Vaz, supported by chairman of the enterprise team leading the development, Joseph Shoucair, who is also the head of the Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings which owns the land, challenged that claim.

“This media briefing will be the first of many during the execution of the development, which includes a robust community consultation and citizen awareness and education efforts.

“SCJ Holdings has also, through the public consultation meetings that have taken place between 2019 and now, engaged several community groups, sporting associations and youth clubs,” said Vaz.

He pointed out that the first general public meeting about the development will take place next Thursday and comments and recommendations from members of the public will be considered.

“Because it is never too late to make changes if it is that those changes make sense and enhance what we already have,” said Vaz.

The revised Bernard Lodge Mater Plan proposes the development of just over 5,384 acres with 56 per cent of that amount devoted to agricultural use, 28 per cent for residential use and the remaining 16 per cent for utilities, open spaces and commercial use.


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