Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Update Parliament on logistics hub initiative, Hylton demands

Published:Monday | January 30, 2017 | 1:00 AM

It's time for an update in Parliament on Jamaica's logistics hub push, says Anthony Hylton, the opposition spokesman on industry, even while insisting it's an exaggeration to say the US$8-billion project is doomed in Jamaica.

"I've been at pains to clarify that the proposed Goat Islands project for which, Mr Prime Minister, an update is due in this Parliament now or any time soon, was never intended to be the logistics hub but would be complementary to it, if and when developed," Hylton said while contributing to a debate last Tuesday in the House of Representatives on legislation to grant university status to the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI).

Hylton, who led the project's drive in the previous Portia Simpson Miller administration, for which he faced much public criticism, argued before fellow lawmakers that "the death of the logistics hub initiative is much exaggerated".

PREPARING SKILLS

To support that, he pointed to the Government's decision to continue with establishing a workforce college in Seaview Gardens, St Andrew, to support logistics skills training. The CMI university bill, he argued, is also a way of ensuring local skills are prepared for the logistics project that, up to 2013, was projected to cost US$8 billion to implement and a decade to execute.

Last September, Prime Minister Andrew Holness promised an update in Parliament after announcing in New York that the Goat Islands are no longer being considered for the construction of a trans-shipment port for Chinese investors.

He was forced to address the matter after The Gleaner reported on documents Jamaica submitted to the International Monetary Fund, which revealed that the Government was going ahead with the project on the Goat Islands, which environmental advocates have been fiercely against.

"There are other locations in Jamaica that would do less environmental damage and probably be just as good strategically," he said, without explaining how the entry ended up in the document.

Last May, the Government engaged US consultancy firm Nathan Associates Inc to conduct a 14-month industry analysis that's expected to lead to a master plan for the logistics hub initiative.

The CMI university bill was approved and is due before the Senate.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com