Fri | Dec 6, 2019

Port Authority dismisses UWI dept’s call for more Port Royal consultation

Published:Sunday | November 17, 2019 | 12:47 AM

READ PORT AUTHORITY OF JAMAICA RESPONSE HERE

The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), is rebuffing criticisms coming from some quarters over the massive development in Port Royal aimed at reeling in millions of the tourists per year as the Government seeks to position Kingston as a prime destination for foreigners.

In last week’s The Sunday Gleaner, The Department of History and Archaeology at the University of the West Indies (UWI) argued that the Port Authority had failed to consult them on the projects to be rolled out in Port Royal.

The department said it had the expertise and capacity to provide a meaningful contribution, given the sensitive nature of Port Royal’s fragile ecosystem and historical significance.

However, in response, the Port Authority has reiterated that it has carried out extensive consultations with other bodies and stakeholders.

“Given the historical, ecological and environmental importance of Port Royal, a co-management approach is being taken towards its development which involves input from all key stakeholder groups, including the Government of Jamaica ministries, departments and agencies, as well as academia and representatives from the Port Royal community,” the Port Authority stated in its response to Enrique Okenve, head of the Department of History and Archaeology.

“Contrary to the assertions made ... the Port Royal cruise ship port development utilised a multi-stakeholder collaborative approach that sees various agencies taking the lead on specific components of the development project.”

The Port Authority added: “There is no mandated requirement to consult with specific departments of The University of the West Indies, although the former chair of Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), who was integral to the early development activities of the project, is the head of the Legal Unit at UWI and a former member of the Faculties of Science & Technology and Law. Our contractor is a graduate student in Archaeology in the Department of History and Archaeology at UWI.”

Fort Charles upgrade

The PAJ said it was only responsible for the development of the Port Royal cruise ship port which, in phase one, includes the collaboration with the JNHT on an extensive upgrade to Fort Charles, a key attraction in the town.

“The PAJ identified the SeaWalk, a recently developed technology for berthing large cruise vessels in similarly sensitive ecological environments. SeaWalk is a floating articulated mechanism (analogous to a jet-bridge at an airport) that is motorised and under electronic control, which unfolds to meet a ship that is anchored in a stationary position off the shore. As previously advised, the SeaWalk was manufactured elsewhere and transported to Jamaica. The PAJ is not building a floating pier,” stated the authority.

The Urban Development Corporation is responsible for the master development plan for the entire town of Port Royal.