|432 land titles handed over to Pleasant Heights residents
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Prime Minister P J Patterson on Monday handed over 432 land titles to residents of Pleasant Heights, formerly Warieka Hills.
The handing-over ceremony, Patterson said, was part of the Operation Pride project which has netted $201 million this year through its provident societies.
"Distribution of land is urgent, but that is one thing where politics and partisan consideration must never be allowed to enter the picture. Because, whether you are PNP, JLP or any other kind of P, you have to live somewhere and you should be entitled to live in decent affordable shelter," Patterson said.
At the same time, Patterson challenged detractors of the Operation Pride programme to prove that embezzlement had occurred. "They have sought at different times to pillory people who have had the ministerial leadership for Operation Pride. Let the records show that there can be no suggestion that anybody in the political directorate has been guilty of undue enrichment and have pocketed any of the money or engaged in any corrupt practices in the engagement of Operation Pride."
Karl Blythe earlier this year resigned as housing minister after a damning report on the Pride project, government's low-income shelter programme.
The 6,000-square foot Pleasant Heights lots, valued at an average of $350,000, have roads, upgraded water and electricity supplies. In addition, sewage disposal will be put in place using evapo-transportation and soak away systems on each lot.
The project was managed by the National Housing Development Corporation, (NHDC), and Brownwell Construction Company have secured the building contract. A development plan, inclusive of recreational and commercial areas, has also been completed for the Pleasant Heights site.
The Pride project, Patterson noted, was well supported and he mentioned the contribution of $5.2 million that was made to the Provident Society by persons who resided in a cemetery in Falmouth, Trelawny and $10 million which was contributed by residents of Riverton Meadows.
But while praising the Pleasant Heights residents for their contributions, he charged them to desist from "giving sanctity or refuge to druggists and gunmen".
Operation Pride came on stream in 1995 and this recent allocation of titles brings the number of lots that have been issued to more than 30,000.
The 30,000th individual to be given a title under the land distribution exercise, Hyacinth Kerr, was overjoyed at being presented with a title for her own plot of land. "It is a proud moment for me," she told the Observer.
Delloney Hayles, 61, has resided in Warieka Hills for over 30 years. He was also issued with a land title and told the Observer that he thought each and every Jamaican should be able to be in a position he found himself in.
Ian Crawford, 35, in pointing out that the project was not a politically biased one, said: "I am not a politician. I am just one of the persons who has applied for land and appreciated it. It is a pleasure." He has been living in Warieka Hills since 1979.
The Pleasant Heights handing-over ceremony was the 72nd one of its kind under the Operation Pride project. So far, 4,148 lots have been issued in the Coporate Area while 25,863 lots have been handed over in the rural parishes, bringing the total number of lots handed over to 30,011.