Concerning the article “Central Kingston Residents Fearing Demolition” The Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation has clarified their intentions regarding James Street and Smith Lane redevelopment in Central Kingston in a press release published on December 29, 2023. 

Addressing a recent article published in the Jamaica Observer on December 28, 2023, titled “Unpleasant Surprise,” the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation is addressing concerns and dispelling misconceptions related to the redevelopment plans for James Street and Smith Lane in Central Kingston.

The initiative stems from the aftermath of the tragic fire that occurred on August 16, 2022, affecting residents on James Street and Smith Lane. In the wake of this incident, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister and Minister of Housing, visited the site alongside the HOPE Unit of the Ministry. During this visit, the Prime Minister committed to rebuilding and rehousing the affected families, emphasizing the acquisition of necessary properties for housing development. A joint site visit followed on Thursday, August 18, 2022, involving relevant branches of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation and the Member of Parliament for the Kingston Central Constituency Donovan Williams. The purpose was to assess the extent of fire damage and commence planning for the replacement of affected housing units. Additionally, the plan included the acquisition of 29 James Street, a vacant building posing a security risk.

Contrary to recent misconceptions fueled by a land acquisition advertisement in the Jamaica Observer on December 24, 2023, the Ministry categorically denies any intention to displace residents. The government is steadfast in its commitment to work collaboratively with residents and their representatives to ensure the provision of sustainable and affordable housing. To address concerns and foster open communication, the Ministry is initiating discussions with the Member of Parliament. A meeting is scheduled for the week of January 3, 2024, involving affected families and residents. The objective is to engage in comprehensive discussions about redevelopment plans for the area, aligning with the government’s urban renewal goals. The Ministry emphasizes its dedication to transparent communication and constructive engagement with all stakeholders involved in this crucial initiative. As the process moves forward, the government remains focused on creating a positive impact on the lives of Central Kingston residents through thoughtful and inclusive urban development.

Reporter: Ramon Gordon
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