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NEGRIL, Westmoreland, October 5, 2014: Work on several improvement projects in Negril are to be ramped up to improve conditions in the resort area as the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment pursues its programme of transforming resort towns for the benefit of both residents and visitors.
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, and State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment the Hon. Damion Crawford, were recently accompanied by representatives of several stakeholder government agencies on a follow-up tour of the western resort town.
Minister McNeill explained that the tour was the latest move in an effort to bring all stakeholders together on site “to take ownership of projects” and involve the wider community to get buy-in from those who stand to benefit.
In-keeping with recent discussions the group visited the sewage treatment plant which serves Negril and surrounding communities with officers of the lead agencies, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the National Water Commission (NWC).
Although some representatives outlined that based on its design “the sewage plant is functioning as they expected it to,” Minister McNeill said he and others had “certain concerns in terms of how the sewage is being treated.”
Following further discussions the NWC and NEPA are to provide Minister McNeill with a plan for tertiary treatment that he will discuss with relevant Cabinet colleagues for speedy action. “The law that has been recently passed indicates that all the sewage plants have to be at a certain compliance level by December 2015, therefore there is not a lot of time to address this issue,” he said.
Minister McNeill stressed that with the emphasis on sustainable tourism, there has to be community involvement in the process to foster environmental protection.
The touring party also examined work to be done on Norman Manley Boulevard regarding drainage, the shared pathway, as well as improvement work to the Sheffield main road. Among the officials involved were representatives from the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo); the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF); the National Works Agency (NWA); the Urban Development Corporation (UDC); and the Westmoreland Parish Council.
Speaking specifically about the main thoroughfare in the town, Minister McNeill said Negril has had a number of problems with medians erected in the road causing challenges for drivers and sidewalks not being properly built. Also, with the expansion of structural developments over the years blocking outlets, drainage has become an issue.
Minister McNeill said it was important that the agencies “see what the challenges are” adding that, “I want to engender a culture where the technocrats and people at all levels of government take ownership of the things that need to be done in the different communities across the island.”
There were several discussions enroute, which Minister McNeill said sought to determine the final outcomes of the various projects as work progresses as “sometimes there may be slight deviations and what we want to ensure is that what we intend as a policy actually comes out as the final product.”
While the NWA is to addess the road issues, attention is also to be paid to ensuring that the town does not lose its aesthetic appeal.