May Pen Cemetery fund crosses $6 m mark
THE fund for the restoration of the May Pen Cemetery crossed the six million dollar mark Wednesday with a $5 million contribution from the National Commercial Bank (NCB). The total cost of the project is estimated at $40 million.
Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Desmond McKenzie, made the disclosure yesterday after accepting the cheque from Michael Lee Chin, chairman of the NCB, at function at the bank’s headquarters, The Atrium, Trafalgar Road, St Andrew.
The mayor lauded the NCB for demonstrating “true patriotism” before listing a number of local firms which have committed themselves to the project to restore the cemetery located at Spanish Town Road, West Kingston.
McKenzie listed among the contributors:
. Life of Jamaica (LOJ) which has committed $1 million;
. Y P Seaton and Associates has consented to supply all the sand and gravel needed;
. Tools Hardware and Supplies Limited has agreed to contribute bathroom and toilet fixtures;
. Brighton Engineering Limited, will supply all electrical repairs and fixtures;
. Tankweld, $150,000 worth of steel; and
. Asphaltic Concrete Enterprise Limited, 180 tonnes of asphalt.
In addition, he said that the Canadian High Commission had committed itself to providing financial support.
Mayor McKenzie said that Jamaicans in the New York tri-state area were also making contributions, and that next month he would be attending a function in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to raise more funds for the project.
“I am making a formal appeal to all Jamaicans from all walks of life to support the project,” McKenzie said after revealing that an account had been opened at the NCB’s branches on Duke and Barry streets in downtown Kingston for donations.
The account number is NCB 101008037 and donations can be made at any of the bank’s branches.
The mayor said that the KSAC had tried, with limited resources, to improve the physical conditions of the cemetery, but that it had become impossible.
“So I took the responsibility of spearheading this initiative to try and seek corporate support from Jamaicans at home and abroad towards the restoration,” he said. “We have a responsibility to the municipality of Kingston and St Andrew, and we are going to do our best to make certain that whatever assistance we get, whether in cash or kind, is used accordingly.”
He said that he had written the Auditor General inviting him to make special arrangements to monitor the use of the fund to ensure that the money was properly used for the purpose.
During the hand-over of the funds NCB chairman, Michael Lee Chin, said that the last two years had been tremendously fulfilling in his life, “because the bank has been given a definitive purpose to play its part in building a better Jamaica”.
He said that over the last year, the bank had come to the fore, in terms of its leadership role in efforts to build a better Jamaica. For example, the bank provides $150 million to support education, including scholarships and payment of CXC examination fees and has also donated $15 million towards the restoration of downtown Kingston.
“If Jamaica is to be restored to its former grace and eminence, Kingston has to be restored to its grace and eminence,” Lee Chin said. “In terms of building a better Jamaica, we cannot neglect our history and our heritage. It is an abuse of our history and a disgrace when we, as productive people, allow our heritage to become derelict. The May Pen cemetery is certainly a part of our heritage and I want to make sure that it is standing tall for many years to come.”
The function was chaired by Aubyn Hill, NCB managing director. Also in attendance was Town Clerk, Errol Greene, and a number of KSAC Councillors.
The May Pen Cemetery, the largest such public cemetery in the English-speaking Caribbean, has deteriorated badly over the last 15 years. The mayor said he could only describe the conditions there now as “a national disgrace”.
In pursuing its commitment to upgrade the facility, the current KSAC administration evaluated the extent of the necessary work to be done through its city engineer department, but eventually decided on a comprehensive restoration and maintenance programme.
The proposals call for a complete refurbishing of its public sanitary conveniences, changing rooms, store rooms, the chapel and administrative offices. The fence will also be repaired and a nearby gully, which overflows into the cemetery when heavy rains fall, is to be cleaned.