JIS News

Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill said today that the Government was pleased with the Judicial Review Court’s ruling, which has upheld the designation of the Portmore causeway as a toll road, as well as the designation of the Mandela Highway as an alternative route.
However, he noted that the government respected the right of the plaintiffs to pursue the matter on appeal, but was confident that its case would stand.Mr. Pickersgill was speaking at a press conference held at the Ministry’s Maxfield Avenue offices, in regard to the ruling, which was also handed down today.
Solicitor General, Michael Hilton who also addressed the briefing, pointed out that no indication had been given that an appeal would be pursued and that pending any such action, this ruling was the end of the matter on that claim.
Mr. Pickersgill noted that a case brought by five residents of the Portmore Municipality was still to be decided, and that the government was in fact hopeful that a similar decision in support of Highway 2000 would be made.
“The Ministry and the National Road Operating and Constructing Company (NROCC) remain eager to work with the community in order that all their concerns on Highway 2000 are sufficiently addressed,” the Minister said.
He said that the March passing of a resolution by the Portmore Municipal Council had the full support of the Ministry, save for the call for a structured benefit to be directed to the Portmore community.
“As you are aware, Highway 2000 is substantially a private sector project with the developers Bouygues making a significant investment through both debt and equity. The loans of course must be repaid and the company expects a fair return on its investments,” he said.
“For Bouygues, this is a business, for Jamaica this is a major infrastructure development that will spur national growth. There is no room in the equation for the developers to pay a direct monetary benefit to any community,” he added.
He reminded that the government agreed with the Portmore Municipal Council on the following points of the resolution – that the citizens of Portmore have a suitable alternative road; that the toll be reasonable and affordable; that Marcus Garvey Drive, the roundabout of Portmore and the Mandela Highway are all upgraded to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic.
Meanwhile, Development Minister, and Member of Parliament for South Eastern St. Catherine, Dr. Paul Robertson said he too was pleased with the decision. “This matter goes far back and I think some people have forgotten the history, but what is important at this stage is that we open the dialogue with the joint citizens associations and the advisory group and that we, on that basis, reach understandings which we can all live with,” Dr. Robertson said.
“It is in that spirit that we receive the decision and it is in that spirit that we wish to continue at this time. I do believe that the building of this highway is in the very best interest of Portmore. I look forward to working with the community to ensure that we do get the benefits from this very important infrastructural project,” he added.
Mayor of Portmore, George Lee said while he respected the rights of the citizens, and the court’s ruling, stakeholders needed to go back to the bargaining table. He stressed that one of the issues he would like to see addressed was that of a reasonable toll. He suggested that some level of assistance be given to the community in terms of dealing with infrastructural matters, which might have arisen due to the use of heavy duty trucks in the community, for example in the construction of the highway.