Kelly's World | Highway, or nah?
I'm not from St Thomas or Portland, but even I was a tad disappointed when I heard the south coast highway wasn't going to happen.
For the uninitiated (maybe too busy watching Euro 2016 or tri-nation cricket), the Government said they were scrapping the plans first announced by the previous administration for a south coast highway from Harbour View in Kingston to Port Antonio in Portland. Finance Minister, the honourable Man A Yaad, said it did not make economic sense. The PM then further explained there will be a four-lane highway from Harbour View to Bull Bay, while the road network from Bull Bay to Morant Bay will be upgraded. The corridor from Morant Bay to Port Antonio will also be upgraded, as well as the thoroughfare from Morant Bay to Cedar Valley.
Now, I like highways. I wouldn't say I love them, but I think they're beautiful structures (when constructed properly) and as someone who has a short attention span, I'm all for any roadway that cuts down on the time I spend behind the wheel of a car. I sometimes wish I was born in the future when we learn how to teleport people, because that would be my transportation style of choice every time. But I'm straying from my lane here. The thing is, whenever there are highways, it means whole heap of dust, dynamiting, excavation, etc. If persons don't have to relocate, it still means nuff a Massa God forest haffi get root up.
Then there is the human factor to consider. For those who love travelling through the heart of Jamaica, highways take you away from the 'real people' that make this country great. Don't foresee you stopping by the toll plaza to get some breadfruit or mangoes. Now, highways bring opportunities and investment. I get that, and I get why some people of St Thomas are infuriated that they will not be getting a 'proper' highway. But nuh some a dem same people woulda quarrel when the toll keeps going up? Just asking.
FIX THE ROADS
Now, in fairness to the PM and his chief bean counter, I understand (I think) why you wouldn't go through with it. But at least fixing the roads is a welcome move. Partly because of the roads, I hear people talk about St Thomas and say it's the forgotten parish. Not for me. The few times I've been there, I love the place. Peaceful so till! And I'm talking about even the 'deep bush' parts. There are sections of the coast on your way to Portland that, in my humble opinion, can rival any view or rest stop in the resort areas. Perfect for a broken mind like mine to sit and reflect.
Improving the road network generally is probably the best move. I know some parts of the St Thomas trek that are bumpier than a roller-coaster ride. Smooth those out, improve the surroundings, assist the coast-based businesses to improve their product, and I think St Thomas folks may very well get the attention they deserve.
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