Sunday 9 August, 2020

Housing for workers to avoid squatting around new St Ann hotel site

Michael Belnavis (file photo)

Michael Belnavis (file photo)

In a bid to prevent squatting around the new multi-resort development in Llandovery, St Ann, Chairman of parish's municipal corporation, St Ann’s Bay Mayor, Michael Belnavis, has announced that housing developments will be strategically provided for both construction workers and prospective hotel employees.

On Friday, the Government, led by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, broke ground for a US$1 billion multi-resort development – Sugarcane Bay Jamaica – in Llandovery, St Ann.

The project is being executed by the Mexican-based Karisma Hotels and Resorts on a 226-acre property that is to add approximately 4,700 new rooms in the tourism sector. The plan is for nine separate hotels to be built at Sugarcane Bay in Llandovery under the multi-resort development.

The landmark investment is projected to create 10,000 new permanent jobs, attract approximately 375,000 visitors annually to the island, and generate $850 million yearly to the Jamaican economy.

In his address at the ceremony, Belnavis said squatter developments have come about when major hotel constructions were undertaken in the parish in previous years without any consideration being given to the housing needs of workers and other citizens.

But for this new hotel development in Llandovery, Belnavis declared that it will be monitored to ensure housing is available for workers and not just the general population.

"... Housing will not only be for sale to the general population to increase the housing stock in this area, but also for hotel workers and for people who will be working on the construction. So we won't have the fall-out as we did in several hotel developments in the parish over the last few years.

"It's going to be (an) organised, strategic development, and it will be emphasised in the municipal corporation that the construction workers must be given place to live and to function," Belnavis said, while warning that the corporation will not allow for any squatting at the new hotel development.

For his part, Holness agreed that for years there had been informal settlements next to, or across the road from, tourist resorts. To solve the problem, he said the Government is currently "building houses in the tourism areas specifically targeted to the tourism workers".

Added Holness: "No matter what you tell me, the smile is brighter if you can go home in your own house and fall asleep and get a good night’s rest... When you come to work, you will serve the guests far better," Holness suggested.

"So a part of the strategy of supporting the (tourism) industry is not to allow informal settlements to pop up around this investment, but to move the housing in a proactive and deliberate way so that people will have the legitimate choice not to go and capture land and put up a shack," he added.

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