Gov't prohibits forcible removal of persons from Bernard Lodge lands

Daryl Vaz
Daryl Vaz, Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, says strict instructions have been issued that no one is to be forcibly removed from the Bernard Lodge lands in St. Catherine as the government moves to develop the area.
He was speaking at a news conference on Friday to outline the government's master plan for the greater Bernard Lodge Development project.
Mr. Vaz said the development will affect 106 lessees and 55 informal settlers.
He said all affected persons will be compensated or relocated regardless of their status. 
"To date, nobody has been forcibly removed and we have tried to the best of our ability to avoid any litigation and so far, that is working and I want to congratulate SCG and the team for carrying out that mandate in veyr compassionate way," he said. 
Mr. Vaz also addressed concerns about the conversion of agricultural land to residential and commercial lots.
The original Master Plan was for the development of 3,948 acres of land, but that has now been expanded to 5,384 acres.
Mr. Vaz said the new plan increases to 56 per cent the acreage allocated for agriculture from the original 43 per cent. 
Another 28 per cent of the land will be devoted to residential use and the remaining 16 per cent for utilities, open space and commerical use. 
Mr. Vaz reiterated the government's commitment that there would be no further change of use for lands in the area.
Last year, Prime Minister Andrew Holness ordered a review of the development plan for Bernard Lodge following complaints from various stakeholders.
Mr. Vaz said a cess is to be levied on developers to pay for infrastructure projects to be undertaken as part of the Bernard Lodge development.
He said a four-lane bridge is to be constructed across Highway 2000 East West. 
In addition, work will be carried out on Grange Lane, the Dunbeholden main road, the Passage Fort and Dyke Road intersection as well as the Bernard Lodge Main Road. 
The scope of the works will include adding traffic signals, increasing the number of lanes, adding pedestrian crossings, rehabilitation of roads and installation of sidewalks and streetlights.

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