Mammee Bay, St Ann. April21, 2023: Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett yesterday lead in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the recently renovated ruin of the Mammee Bay waterwheel in St Ann, adding it to the many attractions in that parish.
Referring to the history of the waterwheel and its role in providing water for the Drax Hall sugar plantation during the colonial era, Minister Bartlett underscored the importance of preserving the country’s heritage while recognizing that monuments such as this one was built by our forefathers even though they laboured as slaves.
He also underlined the importance of heritage attractions to tourism, adding that attention would be given to even more across St Ann and the rest of Jamaica.
Significant features of the Mammee Bay waterwheel restoration include the fact that it was executed by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) in partnership with the National Water Commission, which contributed $3.4 million and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust with the support of the St Ann Municipal Corporation, the Urban Development Corporation and the National Works Agency.
Also, it is the first project of its kind to be implemented in a public-private sector partnership and has resulted in a memorandum of understanding being signed between TPDCo and Ocho Rios Jerk Centre to maintain the monument for the next five years.
Minister Bartlett hailed the signing of the MOU as “a signature statement that is being made about the new direction that we’re going with regards to the inclusion of community in the management of public spaces, and the tourism space in particular.”
He said the Ocho Rios Jerk Centre represented the first and the next would be in Negril where the community “has now coalesced around the need for Destination Assurance as a real driver of the quality experience which is safe, secure and seamless that we offer to the world, and we promise to our visitors and locals alike.”
He disclosed that this MOU would be replicated across the country “as we seek that partnership with private sector groups and as we own the public space.”
In his greetings, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Mathew Samuda, said the NWC contributed $3.4 million dollars to the project, and this was an indication of its commitment to providing adequate water to the parish. Minister Samuda also announced a $500 million dollar water and sewage improvement programme for the parish of St Ann over the next three years.
The waterwheel restoration is being undertaken in phases and Minister of Culture, Hon Olivia “Babsy” Grange welcomed it “as a step in the right direction to preserve, promote and protect our national monuments that were left behind by our ancestors as symbols of our rich culture and our rich heritage.”
Supporting Minister Bartlett, she said although it was on property that played an important role in the enslavement of our ancestors who were brought here from Africa, who were considered property that was bought and sold, “we were the ones that built the waterwheel” so this was an important step in the memorialization of our past and the celebration of our heritage.”
Minister Grange said based on its location, the waterwheel had great economic potential as a heritage tourism attraction.