JIS News

A Chinese company will arrive in Jamaica, at the earliest possible time, to evaluate the island’s defunct railway system and determine if they can revitalize it.
Minister of Transport and Works Robert Pickersgill on Wednesday (February 2), signed a Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the Jamaican government with the Chinese company at the China-Caribbean Economic & Trade Cooperation Forum and Trade Fair 2005 held at the National Arena from February 2 to February 5.
“We have every confidence that once it is feasible, the People’s Republic of China have not only the expertise but the experience and indeed I am convinced they have the wherewithal to revitalize the JRC,” Mr. Pickersgill stated, adding, “it is a long time since it has been on the privatization block and nothing has really materialized, so I am happy that yet another opportunity has arrived and we would like to grasp it”.
The Minister however pointed out that he was “cautiously optimistic”. He stated that, “I know that many Jamaicans are looking forward to the resuscitation of the railway and of course there are prospects for it in terms of tourism attraction but there are still many bridges to be crossed.”
On the issue of trade through the use of the island’s ports, the Minister also announced that a new logistics/ distribution hub was to be developed for goods from around the world entering the Americas. He informed that this would be a modern commercial free zone situated on approximately 40 hectares adjacent to the Port of Kingston.
This centre, Minister Pickersgill said would provide logistics services to companies that wished to use Jamaica as a distribution hub or a base for manufacturing and export to the region.
“We are convinced that there is a need for this facility and that Jamaica offers the best geographic location being in the centre of the Caribbean. We are also fortunately located on the North-South and the East-West shipping and airline routes between North and South America,” he said
The addition of logistics and distribution hub capabilities, Mr. Pickersgill noted, was a natural enhancement of the island’s capacity to serve the needs of major traders within the Americas. “We believe that significant opportunities exist for mutually rewarding investments in the port development and would invite our special guests as well as the regional representatives, not only to explore these possibilities, but to act upon them,” he stated.
In recommending the port facility to the Chinese delegation, the Minister said in 2004, 1,288 ship calls were made to the container terminal delivering 1.1 million TEU’s (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units). He said this was a landmark achievement, reflecting a growth of 10 per cent over the previous year. Clients of the terminal include prominent international shipping companies, such as Zim and China Shipping Lines.
Mr. Pickersgill said there was scope for rewarding participation in the development plans for the airport. “I am aware that the Chinese delegation includes members focusing on aviation matters and will no doubt take the opportunity, as will regional delegations, to explore these possibilities,” he said.
The Minister concluded by stating that Jamaica was serious about pursuing new and expanded opportunities for trade and investment.

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