NEGRIL, Westmoreland - PRIME Minister Portia Simpson Miller yesterday officially commissioned into service the $278-million upgraded Negril Wastewater Treatment Plant in the resort town, noting that the facility will better serve locals and visitors alike.
"I am pleased to advice that the project has now been completed and various elements are now in place to better serve the people of Negril and our visitors, local and foreign," the prime minister told the gathering at a ceremony to mark the occasion.
The newly upgraded plant is expected to significantly ease environmental concerns in Negril, which plays an important part in the country's multi-billion-dollar tourist industry.
"As a direct result of this project it is expected that there will be noticeable improvement in the quality of the sea water and beaches, growth in aquatic biodiversity in Negril and improved sanitary condition of the local communities," Simpson Miller argued.
She noted that the project, which was undertaken by M and M Jamaica Limited and financed jointly by the European Union (EU) - which contributed $243 million - and the National Water Commission (NWC), was completed within budget and ahead of the schedule.
The project became necessary after the sewage ponds, which were constructed between 1994 and 1999, began to sink, resulting in untreated water flowing into the Negril wetlands.
Yesterday, the prime minister lauded former Water and Housing Minister Dr Horace Chang for initiating the upgrade project which started early last year under the previous administration.
EU Ambassador to Jamaica Paola Amadei, who was in attendance at yesterday's commissioning, noted that the project, confirms the prime minister and the Government of Jamaica's commitment to a cleaner environment.
She noted that the sewage plant will immediately have a positive impact on the lives of 3,000 residents of Negril, adding that the local tourist sector will also benefit.
Meanwhile, Simpson Miller expressed her gratitude to the EU on behalf of the Jamaican people for providing financial assistance to the project.
"We ask Ambassador Amadei and Mr Irek Momot of the European Union and all Ambassadors of the European Union countries to please convey the gratitude of the Government of Jamaica for the friendship and cooperation of their respective governments," the prime minister remarked.
Impressed with the project, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill charged the NWC management team to "strive for the completion of many other successful improvement projects".