Member of Parliament (MP) for Trelawny Northern, the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Tova Hamilton, has criticised the controversial Programme for the Resettlement and Integrated Development Enterprise (Operation PRIDE) that was established by a People’s National Party (PNP) Government in 1994.
Hamilton has taken issue with the fact that more than 20 years after a number of her constituents made deposits on Government-owned lands for the construction of houses under the programme, the promised development is yet to materialise.
A first-term MP in the former PNP stronghold, Hamilton recently levelled the criticism while making her contribution to the 2022-2023 State of the Constituency Debate in the House of Representatives.
She said Operation PRIDE was launched to “inter alia, resolve the housing needs of the majority of low-income Jamaicans by developing new planned settlements and the upgrading of existing settlements.
“Operation PRIDE was described as a unique method of making land legally accessible to low-income groups at affordable prices through Government subsidies. The necessity arose given the high cost of housing solutions in the formal sector; the limited available capital for housing; and the inability of the majority to access mortgages,” she said.
“It was the year 2000 that Operation PRIDE decided to utilise Government lands in Cave Island (Northern Trelawny) for a new planned settlement: 269 members of a providence society signed up for lots at a subsidised cost, and were promised infrastructure such as sewage, electricity, water, roads and drains.
“Fast-forward 22 years and the promise of infrastructure remains unfulfilled because of project overruns, improper choice of location for our particular development (which is very rocky terrain), corruption and nepotism,” Hamilton lamented.
She said the situation was made worse by the fact that 10 persons paid in full on the original price that was agreed.
“The 269 members of the providence society have now looked to me to solve this 22-year-old issue, which is one of 80 such informal settlements island-wide that PRIDE has left in its wake. It is evident that PRIDE will cost you everything, but leaves you with nothing,” Hamilton declared.
Operation PRIDE became a major scandal for the then PJ Patterson-led PNP Government, with accusations of millions of dollars wasted on lands that were not suitable for building, and connected persons benefitting, instead of those for whom the programme was designed. One Government minister was forced out of the Cabinet as a result of the scandal.