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Logistics hub spokesman urges less bickering over major investment proposals

Published:Friday | July 10, 2015 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
President of China Harbour Engineering Company International, Lin Yichong (third left), and Chen Xutao (second right), project manager of the Jamaica North-South Highway project are flanked by local workers during a recent visit to Jamaica to engage in discussions with the Government.

The Goat Islands project, which its backers say has the potential to create some 10,000 new jobs, is reportedly alive and well despite the deafening silence of the Government in recent times.

But one of the main architects of the project wants to see a stronger local embrace of the planned development on the multibillion-dollar initiative.

Dr Fritz Pinnock, head of the education and training subcommittee of the logistics hub task force, has charged that there are too many who are speaking about the

project who lack a proper understanding of its ability to transform the local economy.

He warned that Chinese investors who are willing to pump billions of dollars into the project could shy away because of the constant bickering over development decisions in the country at this time.

According to Pinnock, the much-touted logistics hub development for Jamaica is pegged to Chinese investment, but many individuals with a say in the concept, including politicians and business people, are out of their depth.

"Too many people are saying things which they have no concept of, plus a fear of the unknown is a factor in the pace at which we are making development

decisions," charged Pinnock.

"There is a fear of the Chinese and their investment. In Manhattan, New York, they resisted a Walmart store coming there and so it went to New Jersey. What did the

people do? They went to New Jersey. You cannot stop globalisation. It is without nationality," added Pinnock, as he bemoaned the slow pace at which development decisions are being made in Jamaica.

"What we are doing now with the Kingston Container Terminal is fine. But we need to embrace a bigger vision. What we are doing downtown cannot give us the growth we need. It can prepare us for growth internally and for us to become more efficient, but we have to go global," said Pinnock.

According to Pinnock, the concepts involving the logistics hub development cannot be seen as the domain of government ministers Anthony Hylton and Dr Omar Davies, as this is bigger than the two Cabinet members.


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"There are some local companies that don't want any big development here, because they prefer to be a king in a jungle than a prince in a kingdom. There is a vested interest in some companies because we are from an economy of traders.

"But this logistics gateway port will make us part of the global stream. We have to stop seeing ourselves as who owns what."

Pinnock charged that too many persons in Jamaica are busy trying to hold on to thousands of dollars when they could make billions.

"Ten per cent of a billion is larger than 10 per cent of a thousand," quipped Pinnock.

He also rubbished claims that Chinese investors will flood Jamaica with workers from that country while doing little to reduce the high unemployment numbers locally.

According to Pinnock, even if a Chinese company that wants to invest in Jamaica says it wants 3,000 engineers, and 2,800 came from overseas, these foreign workers would require accommodation, schools, and medical facilities.

"We have to embrace the Chinese whether we like it or not. By 2020 China will be the largest English-speaking population. The Chinese Exim Bank is larger than the World Bank.

"Look at the road infrastructure the Chinese are putting in Jamaica. Look at the difference that has already been made in travel time," said Pinnock.