‘We have suffered enough’ - Gov’t urged to press ahead with MoBay bypass
A decision by the Government to delay the commencement of works on the long-awaited Montego bay bypass is not going down well with business leaders, who are yearning for an end to the traffic gridlock which has plagued the Second City for many years.
Work on the 15-kilometre, four-lane carriageway – which is slated to stretch from Ironshore in the east to Bogue in the western end of the city – is now scheduled to begin in 2022 instead of this year.
Yesterday, Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) President Janet Silvera charged that the citizens of the western city were being taken for granted.
“For me, this is unacceptable. This delay is only adding to the already overwhelming constraints the region is currently faced with,” said Silvera, who wants to see an end to the traffic nightmare.
Last May, Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke announced a significant cut in the Budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year to divert funds to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The capital budget, which covered new projects, including the construction of roads, bridges, and schools, was slashed by 38 per cent from $76.2 billion to $46.1 billion.
While the plans for the bypass are still being finalised, its budget has been adjusted downwards from $3.8 billion to $3.2 billion.
Despite the explanation, Silvera said that the city’s patience was running thin as it has been enduring major traffic challenges despite its strategic importance to the nation’s economy.
“This bypass is critical and is long overdue. The region was promised that the Montego Bay bypass would have commenced this year. We have been patient, and endured the dangerous counterproductive and grossly inconvenient traffic conditions year after year, now only to be informed that the construction has been delayed until next year,” said the disappointed MBCCI boss.
“We are imploring the Government and the relevant authorities to reconsider this delay and to start the construction of the Montego Bay bypass this year as was promised ... . We have suffered enough,” said Silvera, adding that the delay was affecting businesses and residents alike. “Why has the Montego Bay bypass been delayed when work is being done elsewhere? We are tired of Kingston being treated like no other place exists on this island. Kingston is not ‘Jamaica’, and it is time Montego Bay bypass gets the urgent priority it requires.”
Montego Bay businessman Mark Kerr-Jarrett, a director of the MBCCI, said that the call for the bypass dates back to the early 1990s and it is long overdue.
“This needs to be done now,” said Kerr-Jarrett. “The economic activities that the construction will create are essential to the local economy and that piece of infrastructure must be in place to help and facilitate the economy’s recovery.”