Some 21 persons received keys to their own brand new houses built under an arrangement between the Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing and Food for the Poor at a ceremony in Hague, Trelawny on February 5, 2013.

These persons were among a lot who occupied premises along Tharpe Street lands, otherwise known as ‘Dump’ in Falmouth. In 2010, the development of the new cruise ship pier and its surrounding areas began in Falmouth leading to the relocation of over 100 families who had up to then informally settled at ‘Dump’.

The re-location exercise triggered the opportunity for well-needed infrastructural improvements to the roads, water supply and electricity systems in the area.

Speaking at the handing-over ceremony, Minister of Transport, Works & Housing Dr. Omar Davies said that the handing over of the keys represented a fulfillment of plans to make housing available to persons such as those who were affected by the development of the Falmouth Pier. Noting that some 32 units were built under the arrangement between the Ministry and Food for the Poor, the Minister said that this was part of a bigger national programme under which 1,200 houses will be built islandwide. Minster Davies in congratulating the recipients, encouraged them to good citizens in their community and highlighted the fact that this was a significant moment in their lives.

Also speaking at the ceremony, was Minister without portfolio (Housing), Hon. Dr. Morais Guy who used the opportunity to warn against squatting, noting that the Government will not naturally regulate squatter settlements.

“There is a feeling going on in this country that Government encourages people to sit on land that is unoccupied and that Government will come at the end of the day to regularize the informal occupation. I want to put in record that this is not what we are all about,” the Minister emphasized. He congratulated those receiving their keys saying that this was a good move in ‘owning their very own piece of Jamaica’. He advised them to protect, keep and develop on the investment.

Also speaking at the ceremony, were Hon. Patrick Atkinson, MP for the area; Mr. Ron Burgess of Food for the Poor and His Worship, Councillor Garth Wilkinson, Mayor of Falmouth. Students of William Knibb Memorial High School made well-received cultural renditions.

The Housing Agency of Jamaica is the implementing arm of the Ministry that is overseeing the Project. The Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) also collaborated on the Project.