Mon | Jan 22, 2018

Wrong to scrap highway to Morant Bay

Published:Saturday | July 2, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Morant Bay

It was with great distress that I heard the pronouncement from the minister of finance and planning that the proposed highway from Harbour View to Morant Bay will be scrapped, while announcing a toll road bypassing the town of Montego Bay.

This came as a surprise to many, including members of the Government under whose portfolio this type of construction would fall, and the members of parliament for the parish. Even more surprising is the fact that the previous government had reached the point of giving a tentative start date for the project, and the incoming administration announced that some $40 million had been allocated for the preliminary works on the project.

The announcement by the minister of finance gave the impression that the investment in this highway was not economic, while a bypass of Montego Bay would ease the congestion in the town, a better benefit to the country. This is a typical thought for persons who have very short-term ideas of development, and lack of knowledge of the developments associated with the building of highways.

St Thomas and Portland are parishes bristling with potential for development. In St Thomas, for example, there are sites that can be enhanced, such as Cow Bay, Bowden Wharf and Morant Bay, which was a shipping port. Looking at heritage sites, we see Three-finger Jack, Stony Gut, the Morant Bay courthouse, Roselle Falls, Reggae Falls and more.

A cross-parish highway would also provide workforce efficiency by cutting travel time and road stress. We would see development of housing schemes all along the highway and its access roads, all within 30 minutes of the city of Kingston and, therefore, greater access to westerly travel. Housing solutions could also flourish in St Thomas.

St Thomas must not be called 'the forgotten parish' anymore because of the shortsightedness of a few politicians who do not understand real development and the associated economic benefits.