NOEL HYLTON, former president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), said he was motivated throughout his tenure by a desire to serve his country.
"My contribution is to my country. I have had several offers, … but I never considered private sector … . I wanted to serve my country, and to serve it to the best of my ability," Hylton said.
Having joined the public sector in 1975 as chairman and CEO of the PAJ, Hylton, 82, retired last week, following his long innings.
His 40-year knock saw him, among other things, been influential in the development of the modern container terminal at the Port of Kingston, as well as the development of Jamaica's first export free zone.
Last Thursday, rousing speeches and soothing entertainment filled the air as some of the country's most influential persons bade farewell to Hylton at a reception held at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in Kingston.
Being the head of the nation's port facilities and shipping industry is no easy feat, but based on the glowing tributes, Hylton steered the ship at the PAJ effortlessly and superbly.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller headed the list of dignitaries at the function, which was also attended by former prime ministers Edward Seaga, P.J. Patterson, and Bruce Golding.
"He stamped his indelible mark on the PAJ, and has chalked up an impressive and enviable record of public service, a testimony to his quest for excellence … . He has served with equal distinction under no fewer than six prime ministers, spanning both political administrations," Simpson Miller said.
Minister of Transport, Works and Housing Dr Omar Davies, who read from a citation, said Hylton fostered the evolution of the country's vital port infrastructure and is responsible for moving the port into the 21st century.
"His astute appreciation for the intricacies of international shipping resulted in some 20 major shipping lines, including ZIM, Evergreen, Mersck, MCS, CMA-CGM, and Seaboard, accessing the facilities of the Kingston Container Terminal," Davies said.
Professor Gordon Shirley, Hylton's successor, said he took the shipping industry in Jamaica from "those finger piers … and converted it into one of the most modern trans-shipment terminals in the Caribbean".
Added Shirley: "He led the process by which a labour-intensive process was not just transformed and mechanised, but using the most modern technologies. It is under his watch that the Port of Kingston has become the most important port in the Caribbean."
Speaking last Saturday at a farewell dinner hosted by the Shipping Association of Jamaica at Fort Charles in Port Royal, Hylton made it clear that his success was bouyed by teamwork.
"It was the support from the management of the Shipping Association, from the members of the Shipping Association, from the board of the Port Authority, from the staff of the Port Authority, that made it possible, not me alone," he said.