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Learn from mistakes of Errol Flynn Marina and others

Published:Saturday | December 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM
William Tatham
The Errol Flynn Marina in Port Antonio.
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Learn from the mistakes of Errol Flynn Marina and others

PAUL HAY (MBA, BA (Arch.))

Founder/Managing Partner

PAUL HAY Capital Projects

One of our most vexing problems is the failure to implement projects or protracted study upon study. Understandably, we are most vocal on this topic, but what of the projects that do get implemented, and are, seemingly without proper planning and generally at the public expense?

In your article 'Port Antonio to get cruise-shipping activities - Tatham', published on December 10, 2015, William Tatham, vice-president of cruise operation at the Port Authority of Jamaica, is quoted as saying: "Port Antonio is important to us, but we continue to struggle because it cannot accommodate mega vessels that the other ports can ... ."

Specifically referring to the Errol Flynn Marina, he is also quoted as saying: "We built the marina at the time because Jamaica needed a marina, but without having full appreciation of this aspect of the industry ... ."

Mega vessels are not a recent phenomenon, so my question is: Why was a port not built to accommodate them? This also begs the question: Was the port redevelopment guided by any market studies of the industry, or its competing facilities, to determine requirements for its viability? Apparently not.

Nevertheless, this is not an isolated case. One could similarly question the development of the Montego Bay Convention Centre and, most notably, the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium. It is time we and, particularly, the political directorate, learn that 'if you build it, they will come' is not a feasible business model.

Our country has very limited financial resources and they should not be squandered in such a manner. Proper research needs to guide development of our facilities, preferably before their design, but definitely before constructing them.

We need to be strategic in the use of these resources to maximise their benefit and facilitate the long-term success of these projects. Let us learn from our past mistakes and stop repeating them.