Samuda: NWC projects also affected by limited ‘construction capacity’
SOMERTON, St James – Even as the National Water Commission (NWC) plans to invest $7 billion in projects over the next financial year, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda,has underscored that, like other sectors, the insufficient “construction capacity” which impedes the completion speed of projects is an issue.
Speaking at the official commissioning of a 400,000-gallon tank at Cedar Hill, Somerton, St James, on Friday, Samuda, however, noted that Prime Minister Andrew Holness is aware of the labour issue and has been working to resolve it.
“We now have the issues that we have in road construction, that you have with your hoteliers, where you don’t have sufficient construction capacity to deliver the projects at the pace that we would want,” Samuda said.
“So that is also something that the Government is working on. The prime minister has been speaking about it very heavily, both directly and through Minister Dana Dixon,” he added.
Senator Dr Dana Dixon is minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with direct oversight for skills and digital transformation.
During his address at the ceremony to officially open the renovated Hideaway at Royalton Blue Waters resort in Trelawny last week, the prime minister sought to assure investors that he is aware of the shortage of labour and is moving to address the issue.
“I use this opportunity to give all assurance to investors that the call for labour is heard and the Government is being proactive in ensuring that we put in place programmes and policies to ensure that when the investments materialise you have the people to carry through those investments to make them sustainable and to grow them,” Holness said.
“So keep on, investing in Jamaica will solve any labour challenge that we have. It is not a shortage of people just yet. We still have persons in the population who could easily fill jobs. They need some more training, some of them may need attitudinal adjustment, and others need the right incentives in terms of wages and compensation,” he added.
The construction of the 400,000-gallon tank is part of a $869-million water project by the NWC to boast potable water supply to communities across the St James East Central constituency.
Member of Parliament for St James East Central Edmund Bartlett expressed his gratitude to the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) which pumped some $149-million into the project.
“I want to thank the Tourism Enhancement Fund for providing the resources to enable this activation to provide water for perhaps a third of the parish of St James from this one source, in terms of contact and distribution potential. Even as the distribution at this time is going to be limited to 15 communities, there is scope for expansion,” said Bartlett, who is also the minster of tourism, adding his gratitude to the prime minister.
Samuda told the residents that with the commissioning of the tank out of the way the distribution phase of the $869-million project is next to come, which will impact a number of other communities.
“We hope this gives a confidence because you see this to know that it is coming. These investments take a long time. There’s a lot of governance over them… a lot of oversight that has to be put in place to ensure we avoid sideshows. But I’m happy to see the project come to fruition and I’m happy to report that we are ready to start the next phase. I think that is important because you don’t want to lose momentum,” Samuda said.
“I want to be able to say for all the things you’ve contemplated, Minister [of Tourism], whether housing in an area, school development, etcetera, we want to know that you don’t have to worry about the water component,” he added.
Herman Fagan, acting vice-president at NWC explained that the immediate benefits from the installation of the 400,000-gallon tank is the enabling of a more sustained water supply to nearby communities of Adelphi, Lima, Dumfries, among others.
Samuda said the capital works of the NWC were in the range of $4.5-billion worth of investment over the last 12 months.