Wed | Feb 21, 2018

Leroy Benjamin | Lost opportunity at Goat Islands

Published:Wednesday | December 20, 2017 | 12:00 AM

From the 1960s, I have heard anecdotes of an offer by the owners of the KFC franchise to a local broiler company and it being turned down. I also heard of the offer by Walt Disney to build a theme park at Port Royal, which was also turned down. There is a saying in Jamaica that 'if is not suh it guh, is near suh.'

Between the parishes of St Thomas, Kingston & St Andrew, St Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester and St Elizabeth live 1,880,293 persons - 68.85 per cent of Jamaica's population - (STATIN, December 2016). Over the last 50 years, numerous industrial concerns in these parishes have closed down, putting thousands out of work. This is part of the genesis of our present crime problem in Jamaica.

In 2013, China, the present economic powerhouse of the world, offered to build a trans-shipment port in Old Harbour Bay, St Catherine, and reports in the newspapers of Friday, December 15, 2017, indicate that the present Jamaican Government has declared the area a 'protected' area, meaning, a trans-shipment port will not be built.

This is by far the most egregious folly that has ever been meted out to Jamaicans, and it is sinful. If the rest of the world had even seen these plans taking shape, Jamaica would have become the focal point for other investors. There is NOTHING in Old Harbour Bay (Goat Islands) to be protected as much as the well-being of the Jamaican people. What passes for fishing there leads to perpetual penury and does not have the potential for improvement.

Instead of allowing the Chinese to go full speed ahead with the trans-shipment port, we beg them to take over sugar production at Monymusk. The Chinese granted us the favour and have lost US$250m. As a result, they have now decided to abandon the enterprise.

They have granted another favour to operate the factory for one more year, but are FINISHED with growing cane in south Clarendon. In addition to labour problems, the Chinese have discovered and acted decisively on what many persons already know and are afraid to say it: The lands in south Clarendon are too saline for growing sugar cane. This scientific fact has been known for more than 40 years.

 

Burning shame!

 

We have to industrialise the south coast of Jamaica, with the north coast concentrating on tourism and entertainment. The trans-shipment port in Old Harbour Bay would have been the catalyst for this. My grandparents went to 'grung' and planted yam and dasheen, etc., those days are over for present-day youngsters. Nor will they work in hotels or business process outsourcing for close to minimum wage. Industrial concerns, involving: steel work, electrical work, forklift operation, tractor operator, diesel mechanics, information technology, etc, all pay better wages akin to the bauxite industry.

This is what the youngsters will gravitate to. Do you notice we are now killing persons two to a family? Father and son, mother and daughter, wife and husband, etc. It is a burning shame.

I call on the descendants of the plantocracy to stop taking patronage from the developed world to fight against the industrial development of our beloved Jamaica, under the guise of 'sustainable development' - who the cap fits, let them wear it. Developed countries have burnt coal for hundreds of years and developed their economies, yet all they want us to do is to go around in torn and tattered clothes, singing, dancing and waiting tables. My great disappointment is that I do not hear a word from the descendants of those who worked in the cane fields and who will remain in poverty.

Some Caribbean countries are improving their port facilities with the help of the Chinese. We prefer to protect butterflies, lizards, frogs, ants, seagrass, etc., instead of looking about the development of our people. We should not beat around the bush and please local surrogates for those who want to keep us down. Our decision making must be in the best long-term interests of all our people.

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