The structural issues at the Urban Development Commission will soon be resolved.

Word of this came recently from Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development, Christopher Sinckler.

Stating that Cabinet had approved the restructuring plan for the Commission, he said:?? "We are in discussions with a number of agencies about how we will go about instituting that restructuring plan, including the two major unions and, of course, the Ministry of the Civil Service, which has to give assent to some personnel issues that we will have to deal with."

The Minister pointed out that in spite of these issues the UDC was able to carry out a considerable amount of work.?? "We now have in train 75 housing solutions at various stages of completion. Some have actually been completed…The repair programme has been going very well. .. We should be able to complete the 2009-2010 house repair/replacement programme by January 2010, two or three months ahead of schedule," Mr. Sinckler revealed. ????

Pointing out that the Compliance Officers retained by the UDC’s Rapid Response Unit had been doing their job, he said: "A lot of issues of poor workmanship are not arising now; and we don’t anticipate these will arise to any extent, if at all, so we are happy with that."

The Minister also disclosed that an employees’ manual had been developed by the Board as well as a new operations manual.?? According to him, the operations manual specifies how the UDC will deal with contractors and service providers of all types, and the ownership of houses. "We are to take a policy to Cabinet for consideration and approval on the legal aspects of that arrangement, where people come forward and ask for their houses to be repaired or replaced, and it will be a policy, hopefully, that will bring a resolution to the unseemly disputes over who owns the house, and so on.

"It is not the intention of this Government to disenfranchise anyone of property which they believe is theirs, and we’ve had a number of cases arising from previous years to deal with in this regard.??We are getting them resolved, but it really ought not to have reached that stage," he remarked.

Minister Sinckler also indicated that the Roads Programme was progressing smoothly, with three or four roads about to go to tender soon for construction.??In addition, he spoke of the Board’s success in dealing with the land tenantry programme. "We have been able to eliminate the bottleneck in the Land Tenantry Transfer Programme…We discovered as many as 60 to 70 subsidies that were to be paid to lawyers to complete transfer of property to persons under that programme. So, the tenantries’ programme is well on its way again," he said.

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