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'Deliberate attempts to confuse Goat Islands with logistics hub'

Published:Monday | March 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

Diana McCaulay, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), says there is currently a conscious ploy being employed to get the public confused about the proposed logistics hub and the planned development for the Goat Islands.

Delivering a public lecture at the University of Technology, Papine campus, last Thursday, McCaulay said the attempts to get the public confused, about the two projects are being done to gain support for the construction of a port on the islands in the Portland Bight Protected Area.

"I think there has been a deliberate attempt to confuse everybody about those two things. So if you express concerns about the Goat Islands, you are seemed to be against the entire concept of the logistics hub," McCaulay said.

She said the Government is being "slick" in how it is selling the idea of the Goat Islands project without giving the real impact the project may have on the environment and the people who rely on the area for a living.

"They just stick to their message and it goes like this, "US$1.5 billion worth of investments, 10,000 jobs and poverty is the greatest threat to the environment" and if you say what about the consultation processes, they say "US$1.5 billion worth of investments, 10,000 jobs and poverty is the greatest threat to the environment".

Reiterating her stance that JET is not against the logistics hub, McCaulay said a clear distinction should be made between the two and the public should be made aware that the plans to transform the Goat Islands into a trans-shipment port is only one of the several projects that will be done in Jamaica's quest to becoming the fourth node in the global logistics chain.

She said there are other proposals for the hub that they have not opposed; therefore "to be worried about this one (Goat Islands) does not mean you are against development or you are against the whole idea of the logistics hub."

No transparency

She said there has been a "complete lack of transparency" which further compounds the problem they are having with the proposed use of the area, which was declared protected in 1999.

"Over many years, environmental agencies and other civil society groups have fought very hard for public processes that are transparent and accountable. And what we are seeing with this project is a step backwards," she argued.

The Government has reported that the China Harbour Engineering Company is willing to invest US$1.5 billion in the construction of a port in on the Goat Islands, which will see 10,000 jobs being created.