The new public cemetery at Tomlinson’s, along Sir Sydney Walling Highway, is set to be commissioned soon.
The government expects the first burial to take place there within a few weeks.
The establishment of this new cemetery is a response to the overcrowding issues faced by both the St John’s Public Cemetery and the Valley Church Public Cemetery.
Ambassador Lionel Hurst, the Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister’s Office, has stated that there will be changes in how the new cemetery is run.
The cemetery will be arranged in a way that will allow for the grass to be cut easily. This will be achieved by flattening the mounds of clay that often sit atop burial sites.
Headstones will be placed to adorn the entire cemetery, but they will not protrude above the grass level.
Hurst also acknowledged that there will be a need for a price adjustment for burial plots.
He said that a plot of land in Antigua can no longer cost $31, which is what it used to sell for. He could not give an exact amount but expects it to be slightly more costly.
The new cemetery is about three times as large as the current one and is expected to last for a very long time.
Hurst, who is also a historian, has reminded residents of the challenges some families faced in the past with respect to classism in attempting to bury their loved ones. However, he assured the public that the barriers that were broken down in that regard will remain broken in the operations of the new cemetery.
The old St John’s Public Cemetery, which spans four acres, has a rich history having been consecrated in 1889.
Hurst noted that at that time, the cemetery did not allow the poor to be buried there. Instead, the bodies of the poor and working class were buried in other cemeteries while St John’s Public Cemetery was reserved for those who had greater social standing.