JIS News

Jamaica has been appointed Chair of the Executive Committee of the Western Hemisphere Transportation Initiative (WHTI), a group comprising Ministers responsible for transportation throughout the Caribbean region and the Americas.
Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill made this announcement at yesterday’s (Sept. 14) JIS Think Tank, as he provided an overview of his recent trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he attended the sixth ministerial meeting of the WHTI.
“At the end of the meeting, we [Jamaica] were nominated to assume Chairmanship to succeed Brazil. We were nominated by Costa Rica and the nomination was unanimously accepted. The co-chairs now are the United States and Brazil, the immediate past president,” Minister Pickersgill disclosed.
The WHTI is an element of the Summits of the Americas process, which is an institutionalised set of meetings at the highest level of government decision-making in the hemisphere.
According to Minister Pickersgill, the purpose of the WHTI, which meets every two years, is to provide a forum for convergence and cooperation among the Ministers responsible for Transportation from the Summit of the Americas member countries.
The current membership of the WHTI stands at 34 countries. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Organization of American States (OAS), are also part of the group as member organisations.
The Executive Committee is mandated to promote and monitor the implementation of the Ministers’ mutually agreed-upon directives in accordance with its terms of reference.
Minister Pickersgill, who led Jamaica’s five-member delegation to the meeting, which was held on August 25 and 26, noted that Jamaica’s selection to Chair the committee was indicative of the status the country had attained regionally and internationally.”Among the top 100 ports in the world, we are rated in the 60s and that is no mean achievement,” he pointed out.
Continuing, the Minister noted Jamaica’s record as it relates to compliance with international maritime and aviation standards.
“The US, having checked us, were so impressed that they decided to recommend Jamaica as a benchmark in terms of our gaining certification and to use some of our best standards elsewhere,” Minister Pickersgill reported.
The Executive Committee will focus on a number of issues during the next two years including financing transportation infrastructure; a programme developed by a group of experts on aviation safety, security and assistance to states; maritime safety and security; road safety; the use of bio-fuel in land transport; and, making infrastructure work for the poor.
“Those are the immediate objectives for the next two years, during which time we will enjoy the chairmanship,” the Transport Minister explained. Elaborating he said, “the business of financing transportation infrastructure is very expensive. It is one thing to deal with arterial roads, but when talking about road infrastructure, we must also consider the roads for the farmers to get their goods out. That was highlighted in Brazil.”
The Jamaican officials who accompanied Minister Pickersgill to the Brazil meeting included Dr. Noel Hylton, Executive Chairman of the Port Authority of Jamaica; Elsa Binns, Senior Director of Policy Planning and Evaluation at the Ministry of Transport and Works; Valerie Simpson, Director of Policy at the Ministry; and Robert Stephens, Senior Vice President, Business Development at the Port Authority of Jamaica.
Following last month’s ministerial meeting, the Summit of the Americas will convene a meeting of Presidents, Prime Ministers and other heads of state on November 4 and 5 this year, in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The theme for this summit will be ‘Creating Jobs to Fight Poverty.’