JAMAICA | Holness to revive PNP's beach upgrading programme

JAMAICA | Holness to revive PNP's beach upgrading programme

MONTGEGO BAY, Jamaica, April 22, 2022 - Against the background of a recent wiredja.com article that there was a new push from the wealthy and ownership class in Jamaica to deprive and dispossess the masses of the wealth, resources and treasures of the nation, prime minister Andrew Holness announced that designated public beaches will be upgraded this fiscal year, to improve the overall experience of Jamaicans.

An article written by Damion Coombs,  pointed out that "Here in Jamaica we are entering a new phase of natural resource privation and national usurpation politically and economically which can justly be described as a new colonization." He noted that "we are operating under a neoliberal governance apparatus where we as a nation are attempting to legislatively and even constitutively seeking to implement wealthy overlords as an overbearing landed, capital aristocracy whose desires influence and regulate the decisions of parliament."

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, addresses the official ground-breaking ceremony for the 700-room RIU Aquarelle in Coopers Pen, Falmouth, on April 20,Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, addresses the official ground-breaking ceremony for the 700-room RIU Aquarelle in Coopers Pen, Falmouth, on April 20,But prime minister Holness, speaking at the official ceremony to break ground for the 700-room RIU Aquarelle in Coopers Pen, Falmouth, on April, said his  attempt to provide designated beaches for Jamaicans,  was being done to facilitate the Government’s commitment to good governance and the unwavering belief that Jamaicans should be able to enjoy the natural assets of their country.

He emphasised that public beaches must be protected, where the people can continue to enjoy a proud national pastime and where families and communities can have easy access.

“At a minimum, where applicable, each beach will be getting changing areas and restroom facilities, perimeter fencing, parking, gazebos, bandstands, children’s play areas, walkways, electricity, water, sewerage treatment facilities, among other amenities,” the Prime Minister noted.

“We never escape our history, and our history has not always been kind to the generations. But as the generations progress and we emerge as new leaders, we must ensure that we don’t make the mistakes of the past, that we don’t dispossess our people of their natural assets, and that as we pursue economic development, which we oftentimes conceptualise in buildings and roads, that we do not deprive the people of the use of their natural assets,” Mr. Holness added.

In answering Coombs' charge that "one of the ways these wealthy overlords are given legitimacy is through their appointments on powerful government oversight boards such as the Economic Program Oversight Committee (EPOC) and the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF)," the prime minisrter pointed out that  "the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), which has already begun consultations with several communities across the island, will be financing the beach-upgrade initiative “with at least one to be addressed in each parish”.

“Development must take place with Jamaica’s social context in mind,” the Prime Minister argued.

Executive Director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Clyde Harrison, highlights major programmes being undertaken by the entity, during a JIS Think Tank on June 2. Looking on is Director of Projects at TEF, Christopher Miller.Executive Director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Clyde Harrison, highlights major programmes being undertaken by the entity, during a JIS Think Tank on June 2. Looking on is Director of Projects at TEF, Christopher Miller.In 2015, the then Executive Direector of the Tourism Enhancement Fund Clyde Harrison, announced that the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) would be financing the development of some 14 beaches across the island as part of its National Beach Development Programme.

Valued at an estimated $250 million, the project would equip public beaches with recreational facilities for the enjoyment of locals and visitors to the island.

“This programme will involve the upgrading and upkeep of at least one beach from each parish,” said Harrison.

Some of the beaches identified under the programme include: Burwood, Trelawny; Providence Park, Montego Bay; Norman Manley Beach Park, Negril; Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth; Old Harbour Bay, St. Catherine; Salem, St. Ann; and Boston in Portland.

He said they will be equipped with children play areas; seating with tables; picnic areas and gazebos; restrooms and changing rooms; adequate parking; lifeguard towers; and utilities, inclusive of running water and electricity.

“We want to include kiosks for the comfort of the visitors and we want to make these as natural as possible so it does not take away from the beach and tropical feel….where possible we want to have concessionaires. For some beaches, we are even thinking of dual futsal (5-a-side football) and beach volleyball courts, and facility for beach football,” Mr. Harrison informed.

He said designs have already been done for 10 of the beaches with work underway at Boston, Norman Manley, and Providence Park.

The TEF Executive Director pointed out that community consultations are taking place to sensitise persons about the programme and how they will benefit.

In terms of maintenance, Mr. Harrison said the plan is to make these areas self-sustaining, through provision of water sports and other activities at a cost, in order to cover operational expenses.

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