North Coast Highway Major Vehicle for Economic Transformation – PM

Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller said the value of the North Coast Highway project should be viewed not only in terms of cost, but that consideration should be given to the savings in travel time and money and the numerous investment opportunities that have resulted from its construction.
Mrs. Simpson Miller was speaking in Trelawny on Wednesday (Feb. 28) at the official opening of the Rio Bueno bypass. The bypass forms part of Segment Two of the highway project. She stressed that the project had opened up new areas of the country to investment and created more opportunities for ordinary Jamaicans to enjoy the fruits of the development. Also, she emphasized, the roadway was a major vehicle for economic and social transformation and added that several countries had lifted their most vulnerable citizens out of poverty by investing in infrastructural development. “Already we have seen significant tourism investments that have created employment and improved social development along the highway corridor,” Mrs. Simpson Miller stated. She said the Government had adopted an integrated approach to development and that efforts were being made to ensure that the linkages between the tourism industry and other sectors of the economy were strengthened in order that the value added from tourism could be maximized. “When the tourism sector is booming, it is all who benefit. Our farmers, small retailers and distributors, our taxi men, craft vendors, cosmetologists and artisans, entertainers and small manufacturers,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said. She said development work at the island’s air and sea ports as well as in the area of telecommunications formed part of a deliberate and planned strategy for development which was largely responsible for high level of investment flows into the country. She said the people of Jamaica were both the means and the end of the development now taking place in the country, adding that the government had a duty to ensure that this was done in a holistic, transformational and environmentally friendly manner. Mrs. Simpson Miller said that the original scope of the design work for Segment Two of the North Coast Highway did not include the construction of the Rio Bueno bypass, but that the plan had to be adjusted in order to protect and preserve the archaeological sites and historical buildings in that area of the parish. “This is the essence of adopting a balanced, holistic and responsible approach to development. It must not be at the expense of the environment and our historical and cultural interests,” the Prime Minister said. The North Coast Highway project involves the construction of a single roadway from Negril to Port Antonio. Segment One has already been completed while Segment Three is scheduled for completion in June of next year. The Falmouth to Ocho Rios leg of Segment Two was opened by the Prime Minister in December of last year.

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