The Portland Municipal Corporation is looking to identify lands for the establishment of a new cemetery for the parish.
Speaking to JIS News after the Corporation’s monthly meeting at its Chambers in Port Antonio on Thursday (January 9), Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, said that the objective is to meet the growing demand for public burial spaces.
More Jamaicans are laying their loved ones to rest in a public cemetery rather than at home or a family plot.
“Burial in public cemeteries, not just in Portland but across the country has become a major concern. Almost 70 per cent of the public cemeteries across the country that are controlled by the municipal corporations are either filled or at the point where burial can hardly take place,” Minister McKenzie said.
“The other major issue that confronts them is to find suitable lands for burial,” he added.
He said that the existing public cemetery in the parish will be closed once a new burial area has been established.
“I can’t accede to a request from any municipal corporation to close a public cemetery. The only way I can do that is like in the case of St. Catherine. When they applied for the closure of the public cemetery, they were able to provide to me the information that they have acquired lands and that they were in the process of establishing a new cemetery, which the Ministry gave funding to, and that new cemetery is up,” he said.
“I can’t grant an approval or permission to close any cemetery if the municipalities are not in a position to say to me that this is where we are going to provide burial services after the order is given,” he stressed.
Minister McKenzie noted that in addition to identifying lands, other external entities have to be engaged for the necessary approvals.
“To establish a cemetery, it has to be in an area where there is no threat to the natural water table… . There are environmental considerations that will have to be taken into account,” he said.
Minister McKenzie told JIS News that under the burial regulations, the local authorities are responsible for providing burial for the public, and that “this is an obligation that the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development will continue to assist the municipalities across the island to fulfil”.