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Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill, has announced that the architectural design for the construction of a permanent “solution” to the Yallahs Fording in St. Thomas would be completed soon, as only “final touches to the design” are currently being made.
In addition, the Minister noted that the National Works Agency (NWA) would be meeting with persons in the affected areas in St. Thomas in another two weeks, in order to share with them, information gathered from an Environmental Impact Assessment, which was conducted in the community.
The Minister made the announcement during a wide-ranging presentation at the final in a series of panel discussions, hosted by the Office of the Prime Minister today (March 9), at Jamaica House. The series, which began in November last year, explored issues pertaining to poverty, governance, Jamaica in the international arena, and growth and development through information, communication technology.
Speaking on the topic: ‘How our Roads and Ports Support National Development’, Minister Pickersgill pointed out that the work to be undertaken at the Yallahs Fording, would further serve to increase the significant infrastructural development that has taken place in Jamaica, to include the construction and rehabilitation of major road networks, the expansion of Jamaica’s seaports and airports, and an increase in commercial infrastructural development.
“Indeed, we are not building roads and other physical infrastructure simply for their own sake, but as part of the transformation process, which is critical for [national] development and for improving the efficiency and competitiveness of the productive sector,” he pointed out.
Citing the contribution of the Works Ministry to the growth of the economy, Minister Pickersgill pointed to the 2005 Economic and Social Survey Report, soon to be published by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), which showed that the construction and installation sector grew by 9.6 per cent up to the third quarter of last year. Figures, he further indicated, have projected an overall growth of 7.6 per cent in that sub-sector for the entire year.
This, he noted, was an increase of more than the five per cent recorded in 2004, despite the negative impact of hurricanes Wilma, Dennis and Emily. “This year’s [2006] projected growth,” he asserted, “will represent the largest growth rate and the sixth consecutive year of growth, since the decline of 1.7 per cent in 1999”.
Meanwhile, Dennis Morrison, Chief Technical Director in the Development Division at the Cabinet Office, presenting on the topic: ‘The Link between Infrastructural Development and Investment’, pointed out that the significant infrastructural development taking place in Jamaica since the 1990s, has removed a number of deficiencies, which had “represented a critical bottleneck to economic expansion and improved quality of life”.
Mr. Morrison said that improvements in Jamaica’s physical infrastructure have only served to increase the level of investment that has taken place, and would continue to take place in Jamaica. “We are actually at the stage where investment levels are rising in key industries, tourism, mining, information communication technology, agro-processing and some areas of manufacturing,” he asserted.
He noted further that Jamaica, unlike the rest of Latin America, has managed to attract private sector activity to support the rapid expansion and transformation of its infrastructure.
Chairman of the National Investment Bank of Jamaica (NIBJ), Aubyn Hill, in his presentation on: ‘Creating linkages across sectors: A perspective’, emphasised that the growth of Jamaica’s infrastructure would only serve to catalyse investment into the island.
He urged the government to make significant changes in its service delivery, specifically as it relates to co-ordination of its policies, with the objective of making it easier for investors to do business in Jamaica.