Mckenzie 'very dissatisfied' with pace of work on Westmoreland InfirmaryFriday, July 16, 2021
BY DAINA DAVY
SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie yesterday blasted the Opposition party-controlled Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC) for its failure to complete its share of work on the almost $50-million parish infirmary even after funds were provided.
"Mayor, I am grossly disappointed. [There is] no male ward, no matron ward. The wards that the residents are living in are in a deplorable condition and that goes against the core values of this Government," said a furious McKenzie. He was chiding Bertel Moore, chairman of the WMC and a member of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP).
McKenzie has spent the last week touring infirmaries across the island, highlighting with much fanfare at each stop the great work being done. Yesterday, he was particularly peeved, he said, because other parishes that had received funding after Westmoreland had already completed their projects.
"I am very, very dissatisfied, unhappy, mad with this situation here and I am going to ask the mayor to ensure this is sorted because money is not an issue. The funds are here," he insisted.
McKenzie told reporters the money was made available in 2017 after a tour he did with Moore. He said funding was provided by the National Housing Trust and his ministry provided an additional $42 million.
However, Mayor Moore quickly laid the blame at the feet of the WMC's superintendent of roads and works, Ava Murdock.
"I'm totally frustrated, just as the minister, and I blame [the delay] totally on our superintendent [of roads and works]... I am tired of talking to her concerning it and we will have to do something," he told members of the media gathered for the tour.
When contacted by the Jamaica Observer Murdock opted not to comment, saying she was following established protocol.
The mayor said he plans to speak with the acting superintendent of roads and works and the contractor for the project to identify a way forward.
The infirmary's temporary matron, Nedene Collins-Whyte, said they are in desperate need of the new ward as the existing facility is overcrowded and dilapidated. The male ward houses 42 residents and the female ward has 27, she said.
According to secretary of the board of supervision in charge of the island's poor relief department Treka Lewis, the price tag for the male ward of the Westmoreland Infirmary to be built is roughly $41 million and the matron's ward would be $7.6 million. The $48.6-million project initially had a 2019 completion date, she told the Observer.