WMC calls for resumption of work on much-needed facility

Observer writer

Thursday, July 04, 2019

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SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — The Westmoreland Municipal Corporation has written to the Ministry of Local Government in an effort to have work on the budgeted $74 million Westmoreland Municipal Corporation administrative building completed.

Construction of the facility commenced in 2015, but has come to a standstill as the contractor has reportedly abandoned the job.

Last September, Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie told reporters that the contractor had failed to meet “certain deadlines” despite several meetings.

“What I do know is that a decision was taken to terminate the contract and that the completion of the building should be undertaken by the municipal corporation,” McKenzie disclosed then.

Five months earlier, the local government ministry had sent a letter to the National Contracts Commission (NCC) for approval to be given to the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation to take over the contract.

But to date, work on the building has not been restarted as the corporation is yet to receive approval from the NCC.

At the recent sitting of the regular monthly general meeting of the corporation, a decision was taken to write to the local government ministry in an effort to get the project restarted.

“We are going to write to the ministry for them to write to the NCC so that we can get a quick response from them,” a seemingly frustrated Mayor Bertel Moore told the Jamaica Observer West recently.

Most of the corporation's operations, including the mayor's parlour, the secretary manager's office, and the administrative office, are currently housed in a rented space at Dunbar Mall in Westmoreland after the corporation was forced to vacate its home which was located on a section of the building that houses the Westmoreland Parish Court, due to termite infestation.

The less than ideal conditions in which the corporation was housed had caught the eyes of then minister with responsibility for Local Government, Robert Montague, during the Bruce Golding-led Jamaica Labour Party Administration.

Montague committed $35 million from the Equalization Fund towards the project, while the remaining amount was topped up by former Minister of Local Government Noel Arscott, who succeeded Montaque.

But, even though the commitment was given nine years ago, construction for the facility did not begin until 2015.

At that time, mayor of Savanna-la-Mar, Bertel Moore, stated that the technical officer had given February 2017 as the new deadline for completion.

The deadline was later pushed back to 2018.

The municipal building when completed will house an administrative office, secretaries' office, the mayor's office, a meeting room, the accounts and the planning departments. It will also house a canteen.

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