Sun | Feb 16, 2020

Robert Stephens | Port Royal development: Wrong approach

Published:Friday | January 17, 2020 | 12:48 AMRobert Stephens/Guest Columnist
Port Royal

The feedback from recent reports regarding the development of Port Royal from various quarters, including the residents, Councillor for Port Royal Lorraine Dobson, the Member of Parliament Phillip Paulwell, the Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams, Government back-bencher Leslie Campbell, and shareholders in Port Royal Development company (PRDCL) all point to a totally wrong approach to the development by the Government of Jamaica (GOJ).

PRDCL was established as a public-private partnership to develop Port Royal in a sustainable manner, with the private sector providing the funding for a comprehensive development to take place in an orderly fashion. Central to the approach by PRDCL was the training and development of the people of Port Royal to take advantage of the opportunities to be generated from the development.

‘SIX FOR A NINE’

The infrastructure of Port Royal, including upgrading the facilities for the entire town, new housing, upgrading the school, a Type 3 health centre and modern police station were all a part of our plan to upgrade the entire town for the people of the town of Port Royal and visitors to this special heritage town.

Funding for the entire development was to be provided by private sector investors who would put up the majority of the funds for the entire development, with the GOJ repaying the investment for the public facilities over 10 years and the people owning their own homes via a partnership between the private investors, and the National Housing Trust providing mortgages to the residents.

Why the GOJ has chosen to piecemeal develop the town and promote Port Royal on a cruise ship itinerary before properly preparing the town could seriously backfire, as we are essentially selling a ‘six for a nine’ by telling visitors they are coming to Port Royal rather than sending the majority of them on buses to Kingston.

We shall see where all this ends up, but in my humble opinion, it is a totally wrong approach, as the private sector investors who have dedicated 25 years of blood, sweat, tears and cash in planning the sustainable development of Port Royal and the community members are being totally left out of the picture.

Robert Stephens is director of the Port Royal Development Company. Email feedback to rspragma@yahoo.com and columns@gleanerjm.com.