St Thomas moving from rebellion to revolution – PM
As he toured the site for the new Morant Bay Urban Centre on Thursday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared that it was time for St Thomas to shed its status as the ‘forgotten parish’ and move from its history of rebellion to revolution.
Noting that the parish was long overdue for attention, Holness said he was pleased with current projects now under way and expressed hope that construction will proceed speedily on the latest initiative.
“Already, you see what is happening in Kingston with the construction of residential and commercial real estate,” he said, pointing out that there is a scarcity of available lands for development.
Hence, Holness said, there would be a developmental push in the eastern end of the island, focussing on Morant Bay.
The prime minister said he was certain that the $6-billion project – inclusive of the roadworks being conducted under the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project – would be economically viable, bringing much-needed employment opportunities, tourism and other benefits to the parish.
Lyttleton ‘Tanny’ Shirley, chairman of the Factories Corporation of Jamaica Limited (FCJ), which is overseeing the development of the Morant Bay Urban Centre, said there is currently a 130 per cent booking for the space.
“We had more demand for space than we presently have on construction,” he said.
Due to the high rate of interest, the FCJ has purchased an additional 10 acres of land, bringing the total to roughly 40 acres.
Shirley went on to say that project is expected to reel in up to 3,000 job opportunities after construction.
The urban centre is the first of its kind to be built in Jamaica. The two-year construction project will be headed by the China Harbour Engineering Company.
To transform the space, the urban centre, which will be located close to the current town, will be developed into a civic and economic hub that will boost the welfare and well-being of all who use it.
Holness added that the highway project was also progressing well and will usher in a profound change in how individuals have accessed St Thomas over the last 50 years.
“It will create new opportunities, and ... new flows into St Thomas,” he said, pointing to prospective interests in tourism and the business process outsourcing sector.
Holness said that there were additional rural township initiatives in the works, including plans for a 50-acre plot of land in Falmouth, Trelawny.
The financing for Boundbrook in Port Antonio, Portland, has reached an advanced stage of completion and the plans finalised, he also disclosed, noted that this development could get off the ground as Jamaica celebrates its 60th anniversary of Independence next month.
The Government is also planning works for Old Harbour, St Catherine, and also has Spanish Town on its radar for redevelopment.
The Old Capital, which Holness noted was “close” to his heart, is “an area of Jamaica that have so much cultural and heritage assets that we need to preserve and develop”, he said.