Mon | Nov 30, 2020

Letter of the Day | Port Royal doesn’t deserve piecemeal development

Published:Monday | July 15, 2019 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I attended the presentation of the Port Authority plans to develop a floating cruise ship dock at Port Royal and commend them and their environmental consultants for a job well done in terms of the entire function and the comprehensiveness of the approach.

The missing pieces, however, are of grave concern in terms of sustainable development of the jewel of Port Royal.

To begin with, it is clear that the Urban Development Corporation, which has a public-private partnership (PPP) with more than 40 private-sector partners, and all the work done previously by the Port Royal Development Company, was downplayed or totally ignored.

Much of what was presented in the environmental impact assessment was a regurgitation of work done in 2000 by Environmental Solutions Ltd, on behalf of the Port Royal Development Company, and the recognition of that work and the partnership with the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) was totally absent.

The consultants and the Port Authority indicated that their focus was on the cruise pier and the immediate surroundings, so there will be parking for buses to shuttle visitors mainly to Kingston attractions, and some will choose to tour Fort Charles and other attractions in Port Royal. Therefore, sewage treatment for the site will be in place, but not for the entire town.

Developing Port Royal in a comprehensive way and having a total package of attractions, shops, restaurants, sidewalk cafés and entertainment can only be done via a comprehensive plan and collaboration with the private-sector partners.

The Holness administration is aware that the Port Royal Development Company is an existing public-private partnership which, via the Development Bank of Jamaica, could be used to invite significantly more private investment from Jamaicans in Jamaica and the diaspora to invest in doing a comprehensive development of Port Royal, including the critical infrastructure.

Developing a cruise pier, without doing a comprehensive development of Port Royal, is a great disservice to the potential of this jewel of a heritage destination and is dishonest to the cruise visitors who will be sold on visiting Port Royal Jamaica on an itinerary, only to be offered mainly attractions in Kingston when we could offer much more in Port Royal itself.

I again urge the GOJ to rethink their plans and embrace the private sector as partners instead of talking about PPPs driving economic development and when a clear opportunity presents itself, you lock out the private sector and go it alone, to the detriment of the long-term sustainability of the development of Port Royal.

Over to you, PM Holness.

ROBERT STEPHENS

Director of Port Royal Development Company