WORK is finally expected to get going later this year on the long-promised Portmore hospital.
Portmore Mayor George Lee, in giving an update on the project at a community meeting Thursday at the HEART Academy, announced that the ground breaking for the private hospital to serve the municipality will be "sometime this year", but gave no timetable for the construction period.
Lee, who said the hospital "will change the face of Portmore and create jobs for the people", also announced that the Information Technology Centre at Naggo's Head will be expanded before year end, thereby creating opportunities for more jobs.
At the same time, Lee, who was positive in his outlook for the municipality, cited several wide-ranging projects, including the Port Authority of Jamaica's proposed expansion of facilities at Fort Augusta, that are slated to begin soon, and will help ease the unemployment among residents of the sprawling St Catherine community.
Lee, in reflecting on the council's first 100 days in office, said he was very pleased with the progress made and the record of achievement. Above all, he said, "I believe we have restored the credibility and respect of the council".
He listed a major drain-cleaning programme that has benefitted communities such as Waterford, Portsmouth, Bridgeport and beyond, and which he said helped to reduce mosquitoes in the areas, among the achievements of the new council.
Lee said, too, that the National Works Agency (NWA) was currently fixing major roadways in Portmore, and that later this month the council would also be undertaking road repairs on minor roads.
Mayor Lee also reported progress in tackling the long-standing sewage problem. He said the National Water Commission has informed him that tender notices have gone out to solicit bids to start the transfer of sewage from Portmore to the Soapberry plant. The tender will close on August 18, and the process is expected to take 18 months to complete.
"As Mayor of Portmore, and with the team behind us, we are going to take this municipality forward. We are going to create economic opportunities, we are going to look about the environment and the infrastructure, and one day we want to see Portmore as the greatest community in the English speaking Caribbean and beyond," he said.
The mayor received support from Members of Parliament Fitz Jackson, Colin Fagan and Arnaldo Brown, all of whom appealed for greater involvement from the citizens in the affairs of the community.
Brown, the state minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, also updated the community on the construction of the Cedar Grove High School in his constituency, at a cost of $660 million. The project, he said, has provided jobs for persons in the immediate environs. He said it should also open up opportunities for others to benefit as service providers.
This is the first high school to be built in the 50th year of Independence and the state minister said he has made recommendation that the facility be one of the monuments to the Jamaica 50 anniversary.