Letter of the Day | Highway 2000, 16 years later
The EDITOR, Sir:
P.J. Patterson is a visionary. In 1999 he visualised a highway that would encompass Jamaica. The aim was to achieve quick transportation time and to provide economic activity. In 2000 ground broke for the highway and Patterson's imagination could be seen. Some had negative reactions, but no leader can appease an entire population.
This A1 road started from Mandela Highway to the Vineyards at Bushy Park, the first modern tolled highway in Jamaica's history. Concerns were raised at the cost of using this toll road; however the motoring public still had the choice of using the existing road. Times saved and less stress on vehicles soon have drivers forgetting the toll cost and using the toll road.
Over the next 16 years other sections of Highway 2000 became a reality. Drivers who seem to have a hard- wired fear of crossing flat bridge have no further need to worry. Now, going to Bog Walk and beyond, flat bridge is bypassed. Cruise ship passengers in Ochoa Rios can hop over to Kingston and return in very little time.
Highway 2000 becomes part of the 2030 vision: how could we strive to be a first world country without a modern highway? Some things just have to come first in the order of things e.g. road infrastructure when dealing with national development. Areas that were undeveloped/ underdeveloped and unknown have now seen new life and hope of a bright future. Land value along the corridors has increased; housing developments are now possible. We are debtors to the Chinese for the loan, but the roads will be here for future generations. We must use our imagination to maximize its potential for growth.
"Logic will take you from A to B, but imagination can take you everywhere." Albert Einstein. We are yet to see ground breaking for the eastern leg of this mega project. There were disagreements from both sides of the Government on the construction and length of this section of road; they have now agreed to disagree on its direction. It is time to roll out the heavy earth-moving equipment. We should not allow Highway 2000 to take 20 years to construct. China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and Bouygues are excellent construction companies and have made us and them proud for the first class road they have built. An individual /company work should speak for them.
Learning by example
After this highway we should have learnt enough to build our own. Now is the time for our road engineers to look, listen and learn and where possible, send engineers to China to perfect the skills. In 2030 why should we be having CHEC or another overseas company build our roads when we had almost 20 years of internship? We should be a force to be reckoned with in road construction and therefore building highways in the Caribbean.
Can we vision it? That is sustainable economic growth.