- Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson, was the toast of his peers and contemporaries, at a recent ceremony in Old Harbour, St. Catherine, to officially rename the East-West segment of Highway 2000, in his honour.
- The administration’s decision to rename the 44-kilometre toll road, which runs from the Mandela Highway in St. Catherine to the May Pen round-a-bout in Clarendon, the “P.J. Patterson Highway’ is in recognition of his instrumentality in initiating the project.
- Highway 2000 is consistent with the Government’s Job Creation and Economic Growth strategic priority, focused on improving road infrastructure; and facilitating protection of the natural environment.
Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson, was the toast of his peers and contemporaries, at a recent ceremony in Old Harbour, St. Catherine, to officially rename the East-West segment of Highway 2000, in his honour.
The administration’s decision to rename the 44-kilometre toll road, which runs from the Mandela Highway in St. Catherine to the May Pen round-a-bout in Clarendon, the “P.J. Patterson Highway’ is in recognition of his instrumentality in initiating the project, and coincided with celebrations marking the former Prime Minister’s 80th birthday.
Highway 2000 is consistent with the Government’s Job Creation and Economic Growth strategic priority, focused on improving road infrastructure; and facilitating protection of the natural environment.
Glowing accolades were delivered by the speakers, who hailed Mr. Patterson’s contribution to Jamaica’s development during his tenure in public office, particularly over the 14-year period between 1992 and 2006, when he served as the nation’s sixth Prime Minister, and earned the distinction of being the country’s longest serving head of Government.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, who headed the list of speakers, hailed Mr. Patterson as a nation builder, noting his significant contribution to the political, economic, and social landscape of this country, during his nearly 40 years of public service.
She said the Cabinet/Ministerial positions Mr. Patterson held at various times, in addition to being a long-standing Member of Parliament for Eastern Westmoreland, “gives an indication of how extensive his influence and contributions have been.”
Mr. Patterson’s Ministerial appointments included the portfolios of: Industry; Tourism; Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Finance; and Development, Planning and Production.
“This exposure gave him a scope of knowledge and experience, which served to widen his contribution nationally, regionally, and internationally. The connection between his domestic and international involvements is, probably, the most outstanding feature of (Mr. Patterson’s) public life,” the Prime Minister pointed out, adding that his advice and guidance on wide ranging issues are “still sought after internationally.”
Mrs. Simpson Miller said the former Prime Minister presided over a period of “massive” investments in tourism, mining, information and communications technology (ICT)/ telecommunications, and energy.
She noted that institutions such as the Jamaica Deposit Insurance Corporation (JDIC), Securities Commission, Fair Trading Commission (FTC), and Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), were created under his watch.
Mrs. Simpson Miller said during Mr. Patterson’s tenure there was an influx of private investments in hotels and attractions; airline operations; power generation and distribution; radio and television broadcasting; the banking sector; and the ports of entry.
Additionally, she said, Jamaica’s social security system has been “vastly improved,” under Mr. Patterson’s watch, noting that “the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), which he implemented, is now considered an international best practice in social security.”
In relation to Highway 2000, Mrs. Simpson Miller described the initiative as a “revolutionary infrastructure development programme that P.J. Patterson…initiated.”
“The Highway 2000 project was conceptualised as a part of the Millennium Projects. It came at a time of great discussion about the role of Government and the role of the private sector (with) the consensus (being) that the Government should focus on infrastructure development,” she said.
Mrs. Simpson Miller noted that the highway project saw the introduction of a new financing arrangement, utilising the build, own, operate, and transfer model, under a public-private partnership arrangement.
She hailed the arrangement, under which the cost of construction is shared between the private developer and the Government, as an example of “visionary leadership at its best.”
“The present administration that I have the honour to lead, intends to build on (Mr. Patterson’s) legacy. This is evident in the steps we have already taken, and plan to take, including work done and ongoing on the North-South Highway; privatisation and expansion of the airports… (and)…Kingston Container terminal (KCT). All of these are laying the foundation for greater levels of economic growth,” the Prime Minister said.
On a personal note, Mrs. Simpson Miller said she was “pleased” to have worked with Mr. Patterson, from whom, she said, she learnt much, “and consider it a privilege to share in this (highway renaming), recognising his contribution to this country.”
In his remarks, Transport, Works and Housing Minister, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, also hailed public-private partnership to facilitate the highway development, involving the Government and French firms, Bouygues Travaux Publics, and Vinci Concessions, and their subsidiaries, TransJamaican Highway, Jamaica Infrastructure Operators (JIO).
“Prior to the 1990s, the notion that the Government could entrust to the private sector, the construction and maintenance of an important facility, such as a highway, was alien,” the Minister said.
Managing Director of TransJamaican Highway, which manages the toll road, Guillaume Allain, noted Mr. Patterson’s keen attention to the project’s details, particularly in relation to protecting the environment and nearby communities.
“Be assured that the respect and emphasis you insisted in for these areas remain a constant priority for us. All the actions of the stakeholders have been socially and environmentally- oriented,” he noted.
Opposition Spokesman on Industry, Investment, and Commerce, Karl Samuda, who represented Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness, praised Mr. Patterson’s “immense contribution” to Jamaica’s development.
He said Highway 2000 is a “national project”, which “will bear the name P.J. Patterson with pride, respect, and honour.”
Mr. Samuda also lauded the former Prime Minister’s “courage of…conviction”, for embarking on the development, despite encountering criticism.
“Your decision to persevere with this highway was right. You had the courage to dare greatly, and success has attended you. I am also heartened by the fact that this honour has been bestowed on you at a time when you can be here to share it with us,” he added.
In noting the wide cross-section of persons attending the ceremony, which also included Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw, Mr. Samuda said this was indicative of “the level of respect that we have for you.”
In his remarks, Chairman, National Road Operating and Constructing Company (NROCC), Dr. Wayne Reid, said there is an “unequivocal link” between Mr. Patterson and Highway 2000.
This, Dr. Reid noted, started from the conceptualisation in 1999, and continued through development and opening of the various stages, until 2006, when the former Prime Minister demitted office.
“This link between the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson and Highway 2000 has been well established. We, at NROCC, welcome the fact that (he) will have his name strategically placed (along the highway) so that we will remember it forever,” he added.
Mr. Patterson, in graciously accepting the honour bestowed on him, argued that roads are not built merely “for the sake of seeing new stretches.”
“We build them because they are an essential element in economic development in any country,” he contended, adding that “the journey to the capital city, from this area (along Jamaica’s south coast) has become less arduous since the opening of the first leg of the highway.”
The former Prime Minister hailed the “industrial harmony” attending the development, pointing out that it was also completed “without any disruption due to criminal violence.”
“As we undertake other major infrastructural projects…we cannot afford any spectre of hooliganism or the plague of violence (to impact these). I urge the residents of the communities where new construction work is going on (or earmarked), to become more protective of these projects. We, as a country, must act responsibly or we will all lose,” he emphasised.
Mr. Patterson also noted the inputs and support of various stakeholders involved in both the highway’s development, and renaming, including “all (of) my former Cabinet colleagues.”
The ceremony was highlighted by a 10-minite video presentation, which chronicled Mr. Patterson’s career, as well as outstanding musical performances by noted vocalist and niece of the former Prime Minister, Karen Smith, and the Silver Bird Steel Band.
NROCC is a wholly-owned government company, which has responsibility for ensuring the implementation of the Highway 2000 project.