Port Royal residents skeptical about promised pier benefits
Danae Hyman, Online Reporter
Although the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) is pumping US$40 million into Port Royal, Kingston to build a floating pier and promoting the new cruise destination as a vessel of opportunities for residents, some community members have expressed concern about the benefits they are being promised to receive.
PAJ announced that it will be coordinating training sessions in association with HEART Trust and Jamaica Business Development Corporation to improve the skills of persons in the community who are interested in working as tour guides, storytellers, pedicab operators, store operators and craft producers and vendors.
Also, head of cruises at the PAJ William Tatham said that cruise passengers will spend between US$80 to US$100 per day and that roughly 90 per cent of these passengers will disembark. It’s said that half of the passengers will go on pre-arranged tours within Kingston, and as far as St Ann, while the other half will engage in town walks or taxi outings.
However, when The Gleaner visited the community last Thursday, some residents reasoned that despite the many promises, they are still sceptic if they will truly benefit.
“At the meeting they told us they are building the cruise ship [pier] to benefit us here but basically I don’t see where it is going to benefit us because when the tourist come in I saw on JIS News where we need a license to sell to tourist and they have not informed us about that license. They teach us the craft and give us a certificate but when I asked about the license they said they don’t know about that,” Annmarie Chamberlin, a resident of Port Royal said.
Another resident, Randolf Prawl, said it is alleged that owners of big enterprises will be the ones to benefit.
“How will we benefit? They have to inform us how the community will benefit because we have been hearing stuff that places that people have been trying to acquire that has been there for years dormant, I’m hearing that people outside have gotten these places,” he said.
Phillip Paulwell, member of parliament for Kingston Eastern and Port Royal, said, while he has not seen any evidence of outsiders acquiring these buildings for business, he would be very concerned and upset if his constituents do not benefit from the developments.
According to him, the Port Royal natives are the ones who should be given the opportunity for development and to continue expanding their businesses.
“It really ought not to be that others from the outside are able to come in at this stage. It’s also my view the Government should facilitate by providing financial assistance to some of these business so they can expand, spruce up and to do training of staff,” Paulwell said.
The Port Royal port is expected to receive its first ship call in January 2020 from the Marella Discovery 2, with 1,850 passengers aboard.