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142 Farmers Formally Settled on Plots of Land in Bernard Lodge

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#Kingston, Jamaica, October 6, 2022 – Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says, to date, 142 farmers have been orderly and formally settled on plots of land as part of the Bernard Lodge Development Plan, in St. Catherine.

Providing an update on the Plan in the House of Representatives on October 5, Mr. Holness informed that the SCJ Holdings has paid more than $650 million in compensation to the farmers.

“Members would be aware that to meet the requirements of the development master plan and regularise the informal and ad hoc occupation of the lands, a structured and orderly settlement plan was undertaken that included relocation, formalisation of leases and payment arrangements associated with those leases and assessment of cost associated with this exercise,” he said.

The Prime Minister noted that additional works, including expansion of storm water drains, farm road rehabilitation, among others, are ongoing.

“The cost of land clearance and preparation, farm road construction and rehabilitation, the opening and expansion of storm water drains, the provision of electricity and the construction of an irrigation system have also been borne by the SCJ, and work is ongoing,” he said.

Mr. Holness informed that irrigation water is now provided to farmers by the Rio Cobre canal system, adding that the cost for the time being is absorbed by the SCJ until the construction of a modern pressurised irrigation system is completed.

“We have started the engineering designs already,” the Prime Minister said, noting that one of the two proposed reservoirs is already constructed to ensure an uninterrupted supply of irrigation water.

“These reservoirs will have a combined capacity of 10 million gallons. Already, many of the farmers are in full production, with vendors and other persons visiting the farms on a regular basis to purchase produce for retail and domestic use,” Mr. Holness said.

He pointed out that there is a well-structured agro-park that has the potential to become a model for agricultural development in the Caribbean.

“I visited it, Madam Speaker, and I am very pleased to see how former sugar lands have been transitioned into other forms of agriculture,” Mr. Holness said.

He noted that the lands, which have been underutilised for many years, were becoming a location for illegal dumping, illegal sandmining and even for criminals.

Cabinet appointed an Enterprise Team, chaired by Chartered Accountant, Linval Freeman. to supervise the divestment of government-owned lands within the Greater Bernard Lodge Development in St. Catherine.

They commenced work in late January 2021 with the aim of divesting the development lands in phases.

To date, two phases have been successfully completed, with a third now in progress.

The Development Bank of Jamaica monitors and gives technical support to the Enterprise Team to ensure that the divestment is in keeping with government policy and governance standards.

The Greater Bernard Lodge Development Plan will create an integrated community of 5,400 acres of land, of which 3,027 acres are dedicated to agriculture and the remaining designated to housing, light industrial and commercial activities, social services, open and recreational space and an urban centre.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Holness said, so far, the Cabinet has approved the sale of some 1,225 acres of land for mixed residential, commercial and light industrial purposes to seven different developers.

“Cabinet has also approved the transfer of 102 acres of land to the National Housing Trust and the Housing Agency at Jamaica at zero cost, as part of efforts to lower the cost of housing to persons of limited means. To date, gross earnings from land sales are expected to exceed $3.8 billion,” he noted.

The Prime Minister said SCJ Holdings Limited has substantial legacy obligations of more than $2 billion incurred in connection with the divestment of the government-owned sugar estates and significant operating costs associated with the maintenance and securing of unused properties.

He informed that the net proceeds of the Bernard Lodge land sales will be applied in clearing these obligations, and the divestment of the properties will lower SCJ’s operating cost and place the organisation in a stronger financial position.

“Aside from its primary duty in managing the sugar lands, it also has an obligation to develop agriculture and other uses for land they own. Therefore, the SCJ has undertaken significant expenditure to improve agricultural infrastructure in the master plan area in payment of compensation to farmers and the cost associated with land preparation and the re-establishment of farmers,” he said.

 

Contact: Chris Patterson

Release: JIS

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Caribbean News

Vessels sink with 900 barrels of fuel in Trinidad

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Trinidad, December 2, 2022 – The Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources in Trinidad reported on Wednesday that a ship carrying 900 barrels of diesel fuel had sunk in the Gulf of Paria. The six crew members on board were rescued and received medical assessment.

The statement revealed that the barge owned by Trinity Liftboat Services Limited was trying to demobilise Trinity Heritage Petroleum Company’s North Field when it capsized.

After receiving an SOS from a vessel in their North Field, Heritage sent out a response team. An investigation into the incident has started, however, the main focus is to redeem the barge without making any oil spills.

The owners of the sunken vessel said “there are no injuries recorded. (The vessel) now sits on the seafloor no longer posing a risk to any of Heritage Petroleum’s platforms or installations.” They said the captain made a good decision to abandon the ship so that the crew members could be rescued and transported back to base.

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Bahamas News

Digital coin created for Caribbean’s Dominica as island partners with Huobi

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

December 2, 2022 – The Commonwealth of Dominica has partnered with cryptocurrency exchange Huobi, to issue its own national cryptocurrencies, Dominica Coin (DMC), and Digital Identity Documents (DID), already reports indicate a surge for the Huobi token.

This new collaboration with Dominica will bring the Caribbean one step closer to being a global cryptocurrency exchange centre.  Huobi also announced its intention to move headquarters from Seychelles to the Caribbean.

It was explained, “The deal is noteworthy partly because of its connections to crypto billionaire Justin Sun, founder of the Tron blockchain where the Caribbean island’s new token will initially reside.”

Dominica Coin (DMC) and digital identity documents (DID) will be issued by Huobi Prime via the TRON network (a project dedicated to building the infrastructure for a truly decentralized Internet); both will serve as credentials for the future metaverse platform based in Dominica. DIDs can be used for cryptocurrency Know Your Customer verification, applying for loans, and opening bank accounts on the island.

The DMC is not yet ready for launch, but The HT token is up 15% over the last 24 hours to $7.12. It’s up 40% over the past seven days.

As one of the first Caribbean islands to adopt the citizenship-by-investment policy, the Dominican government is seeking to delve into the metaverse and Web3 technology as a means to boost the country’s development.

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Bahamas News

Imminent Worldwide Measles Threat; 25 Million CHILDREN miss First Dose

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

December 2, 2022 – Forty million children are at risk of Measles as what the World Health Organization is describing as an “imminent threat” takes shape. A joint report between the WHO and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control revealed that a record number of children missed their measles dose with 25 million children missing their first dose and 14.7 million children missing their second dose in 2021 alone.

Nine million cases of measles were recorded last year, twenty-two countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks and 128,000 deaths occurred, the report says.

“The paradox of the pandemic is that while vaccines against COVID-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine immunization programmes were badly disrupted, and millions of kids missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles,” said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Measles is easily one of the most contagious viruses in the world and while many people think itchy spots when they think of the disease it can cause pneumonia, seizures and brain damage in about 30 percent of infected individuals.

Herd immunity will not work with this disease, say experts, unless 95 per cent of people or more are vaccinated; only 71 per cent of children in 2022 are fully vaccinated.

“Measles anywhere is a threat everywhere” the report said, emphasizing that no WHO region has achieved and sustained measles elimination.

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