US$20m upgrade for Ocho Rios pier
The multipurpose Reynolds Pier in Ocho Rios is slated for major upgrade, a move the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) says will give the facility first-call status as one of the region's major ports.
Project Manager of the PAJ Christopher Hamilton said the project, which has an estimated cost of US$20 million, will be developed to continue serving both industrial and cruise ship purposes, with limestone and sugar likely to be exported from the facility.
"Our intention is to upgrade the space we have available for the ground transportation ... to free the congestion that currently exists," Hamilton explained.
"The plan also includes a waterfront promenade, which would take passengers from Reynolds Pier towards the Ocho Rios town. This would incorporate other attractions or facilities that the PAJ is now working on, inclusive of a state-of-the-art fishing village redevelopment project next door."
The PAJ, in partnership with the Sailor's Hole Fisherman Benevolent Society, is currently constructing a modern tourism-related facility at the Ocho Rios Fishing Village, adjacent to the Reynolds Pier, and which is expected to be completed in time for the December 15 winter tourist season.
"The intention is and will always be to enhance the environment ... to make it better," Hamilton added. "Our ultimate goal is to improve the passenger experience to the point where cruise officials will want to bring their vessels to Ocho Rios, and where Jamaica on a whole will start to get more ships calling on our ports."
Hamilton said the PAJ thought it prudent to create an aesthetically appealing facility that would make it more cruise-friendly.
According to Hamilton, the entire look and feel of the pier would be greatly improved, beginning with the dismantling of the sugar loaders which currently prohibit the berthing of cruise vessels that are designed with the life-boats protruding beyond the hull of the vessels.
"There will also be a new transportation staging area with a similar layout to the Falmouth Ground Transportation Centre," he revealed.
He argued that over the years, there has been a decline in the number of cruise passengers visiting Ocho Rios, with the number falling from nearly 800,000 to about 400,000 passengers per year.
Hamilton said the plan is to give the Reynolds Pier the kind of ambiance that is comparable to the Historic Falmouth Port in Trelawny, enabling Jamaica to have three of the finest port facilities in the region.