(CNS): The number of unemployed people who joined the recent summer clean-up initiative fell by almost a quarter compared to previous NiCE programmes, but many of those who were involved had significant barriers preventing them from getting into the wider labour market, government has said. The latest programme finished at the end of last month, with 467 people taking part — a drop of 23% from the Christmas cleanup. The minister responsible for environmental health said some of the workers will now be joining the iguana cull that is expected to start next month.
The project was organised by the planning and health ministries, and workers cleaned up more than 65 individual sites. The largest work assignments included Smith Barcadere, Colliers Beach Access, the Bo Miller Beach and several vacant lots in George Town and Prospect.
Selected workers were assigned to augment the Department of Environmental Health’s garbage collection crew, “which made a significant impact in reducing the backlog of collections”, officials said a press release. Other work details included an extensive roadside clean-up and a general tidy up of the Windsor Park residential area.
Work teams, which were supervised by foremen from Public Works Department (PWD), Department of Environmental Health and the National Roads Authority (NRA), also cleared litter and other debris from cemeteries, such as Dixie Cemetery on West Bay Road, and from popular tourist sites like Lovers Wall in East End.
Infrastructure Minister Joey Hew said he was encouraged by the amount of work achieved during the programme.
“The initiative continues to provide a necessary gateway to further employment for those registered on the Community Enhancement Project,” he said. “The figures collated show a 23% reduction in persons enrolled. Closer analysis also highlights the fact that many of those registered have significant barriers to accessing full-time work.”
Despite the challenges, Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said the names of high-performing workers would be passed on to the upcoming green iguana culling project. “Graded references are a new aspect to NiCE and will enable some of those who worked diligently to take part in the invasive species population control measure,” he said.
The ministry has given references to those who completed the project in the hope of helping them get jobs. These were originally referred to as certificates, however Hew appeared to backtrack on that when he described the letter in the Legislative Assembly last week and redefined them as references.
According to the statistics released by government relating to the programme, 169 of the participants were women and the largest group of workers came from George Town, where 171 men and women signed up, closely followed by West Bay, where 159 people joined the initiative.