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Living on past glory - PM says Jamaica must invest in its infrastructure

Published:Thursday | October 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Prime minister Andrew Holness (right) listens to Gwyneth Anderson (centre), one of five architects that was shortlisted, explain her drawing of the new Parliament building at the opening of the Houses of Parliament Design Exhibition. Looking on is Edmond Mding, one of Anderson’s team members, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, yesterday.

Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that the country is living on past glory and that it was important to invest in the country's infrastructure - including a new Parliament building - to show that as a people, we are serious about development.

He was speaking at the opening of the Houses of Parliament Design Exhibition at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston yesterday, where five designs were selected for the final stage of the Houses of Parliament Design Competition.

"After 56 years of Independence, I think it is time that we reinvent ourselves as a country. I don't know if you don't see it, but our infrastructure, our facilities are old and creaking. They can't carry the capacity."

Calling himself 'The Builder', Holness mentioned that "the rest of the world is investing in their infrastructure and are moving ahead of Jamaica.

"We are living on past glory, and if we are serious about our development about taking our place in the world, we have to make the investment in our infrastructure," Holness said.

The design competition, he said, would leave a legacy for generations to come.

"The design competition was a creative methodology to help determine how the Houses of Parliament building will represent Jamaica's rich heritage while considering the future needs of our society. The look, role, and function of the Parliament building will provide a beacon of leadership that we think is prudent to encourage nationalism and signals the sovereignty of our people and the empowering of our state to exercise the will of the people of Jamaica," the head of Government said.

According to Holness, in an age of globalisation, Jamaica must be forward-thinking, reasoning that at this stage of the country's development, it needs a purpose-designed-and-built Parliament building that would redound to the people's prosperity.

"I have been in Parliament now for 21 years and not as long as some of my colleagues who boast more than 35 years in the Parliament, but I can tell you that the Parliament building certainly is not sufficient for us to be faithfully carrying out the people's will."

He said that the new Parliament building is not about the comfort of parliamentarians, but is about carrying out the country's business.

Five conceptual designs were chosen by a panel of judges out of a total of 178 team members comprising local Jamaican interests and Jamaicans living in the UK, Trinidad, Guyana, the United States, Argentina, Italy, Canada, Serbia, Turkey, and as far away as Iran.

Each of the five teams received $2 million, while four other teams that had submitted designs were commended by the jury chair, architect Mark Raymond.

The five that were selected for the final stage of the competition are led by architects Ravi Sittol, Evon Williams, Stephen Facey, Gwyneth Anderson, and Damion Edmond.

The Design Exhibition will be open to the public from October 11 to 24, 2018 at the Jamaica Conference Centre on weekdays between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.