MONTEGO BAY – Prime Minister, the Hon Bruce Golding, officially opened Jamaica's 'most modern and elaborate' port, the Falmouth Cruise Pier in Trelawny, on Tuesday March 22.
The approximately US$ 269 million pier, which is still under construction, also saw the arrival of the world’s largest cruise vessel, Oasis of the Seas, making its inaugural stopover in Jamaica, with about 6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew members on board.
Thousands of onlookers watched the arrival of the huge cruise liner, regarded as one of the most innovative and imaginative ships yet. The stopover coincided with the official opening of the pier, established by the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), in partnership with Royal Caribbean International, owners of the Oasis of the Seas.
Addressing the large crowd at the opening ceremony, Mr. Golding commended Royal Caribbean and the Port Authority, for their investment in the town of Falmouth.
“Cabinet gave approval for the project in 2008, and here we are today, some two and a half years later, celebrating this milestone,” Mr. Golding said.
He said that the port represents a significant level of investment in Falmouth, as well as Jamaica’s tourism, and commended Royal Caribbean for its “unwavering” commitment.
“There are many projects, I know, that were launched about the same time and when the global recession hit … (but) despite all of those challenges, Royal Caribbean remained steadfast in their commitment and, today we celebrate the birth of this fantastic facility – the dawn of a new day for Falmouth and Jamaica,” he stated.
“If you look around, you will see that there is work in progress, if you walk into the town, work is ongoing, but there is more work that has to be done,” he added.
He said that while there were doubts about the project, when he walked through Water Square in Falmouth, he was pleased with the transformation.
“To be very honest with you, what I saw when I came this morning, I didn’t know that it would be possible, but the team has done a marvelous job in getting all of that in place”, he noted.
The Prime Minister alluded to the sewerage plan for the town, indicating a need to significantly enhance and improve its capacity. He said that a significant level of investment will have to be made to provide the sewage capacity Falmouth needs, or the town’s system will come under stress.
“There are people who are going to want to go to Falmouth, take in Vision 2030 and decide that it is not Jamaica but Falmouth that is the place to live, work, raise your families and do business,” Mr. Golding observed.
He commended the stakeholders for the tremendous work accomplished in the establishment of the port, and former Prime Minister, Most Hon P. J. Patterson, under whose administration the project was conceptualized.
Mr. Golding was assisted by the Minister of Transport and Works, Hon Mike Henry, Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Royal Caribbean International, Richard Fain, in cutting the ribbon, to signal the official opening of the pier. They then toured Oasis of the Seas.
By GLENIS ROSE