BY GARFIELD MYERS Editor-at-Large South/Central Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Bauxite, mining and alumina processing company Alumina Partners of Jamaica (Alpart) has rejected allegations that it has failed to live up to its responsibilities in the relocation of people from mined-out areas to new settlements.
Alpart said in a release yesterday that it "has met and in most cases surpassed all the stipulations regarding (housing) subdivisions".
The company, owned by the Russian aluminium conglomerate UC Rusal, was responding to complaints from residents in the Montpelier housing scheme in South Manchester that Alpart had not fulfilled its responsibilities before handing over the scheme to the Manchester Parish Council.
Montpelier, located on South Manchester's border with South East St Elizabeth, is among those schemes developed by Alpart to accommodate residents from mined-out communities in South East St Elizabeth and South Manchester. Alpart, which said it handed over the Montpelier subdivision to the Manchester Parish Council in 2008, ceased operations in 2009 as a result of the global financial crisis and high energy costs.
It has pledged to reopen operations within the next few years.
Montpelier residents, who demonstrated at the entrance to their community last week, initially in response to a crime wave, charged that they were without conveniences such as running water, proper street lighting and orderly exits and entrances. In relation to those inadequacies, the residents' complaints were not aimed only at Alpart, but also at agencies such as the Manchester Parish Council, the National Water Commission and the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS).
Residents also alleged that some relocated families had not received land titles -- a complaint also made by some relocated residents throughout south Manchester and SE St Elizabeth.
In response to the land-titling complaints, Alpart said: "Land titles have in general been issued to the respective land owners. There are a few instances in which the titling processes for some individuals have not been completed and these are being addressed on an individual basis given the nature of the issues. Alpart will continue to work with the respective land owner(s) in an effort to conclude these matters."
In relation to water, street lighting and other infrastructure complaints including drainage and roads, the company said it had fulfilled all its responsibilities. In specific reference to water, Alpart said it had provided water lines, a pump and reservoir to facilitate the provision of gravity-fed water by the "relevant authorities".
Montpelier residents complained that despite the provision of water delivery infrastructure, the precious liquid was passing them by - on its way from the well-fields of nearby Pepper (on the Manchester/St Elizabeth border) to Manchester's capital, Mandeville, 12 miles away.
Residents had also complained that services such as bushing of the community had been neglected -- with criminals finding cover in overgrown areas. A police bulldozer cleared sections of overgrowth in the community last week. Alpart in its release said "the issue of bushing is a concern for the individual land owners and the Parish Council. Alpart has remained ready to respond where possible and when requested, to provide assistance with de-bushing".
Alpart said it "remains committed to the positive relations it currently experiences with the communities within its operating area. We continue to facilitate constructive communication between Alpart and its operating area communities that empowers and encourages members to seek peaceful solutions to problems, and to establish and maintain a partnership approach to community development".