PM Supports Vernamfield Feasibility Study


Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has given her full support for a feasibility study to be done on the development of the Vernamfield airstrip in Clarendon, by New York-based international air transport consultant firm, Simat, Helliesen & Eichner (SH&E) in partnership with the Government, the Opposition and other stakeholders.
Mrs. Simpson Miller expressed her approval at a meeting with SH&E, Member of Parliament for Central Clarendon, Mr. Mike Henry, Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Information and Development, Mr. Dennis Morrison, representatives of the Development Bank of Jamaica, and the Jamaica Promotions Corporations (JAMPRO) at Jamaica House this morning (September 8).
The Prime Minister announced that instructions had been given to Development and Information Minister, Senator Collin Campbell to anchor the project by engaging all stakeholders, including the Port Authority, and the Member of Parliament, who has intensely lobbied for the development of the airstrip.
Expressing his enthusiasm, Mr. Henry said the project had crossed over political borders and gave the assurance that “the government’s position will be protected”.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SH&E, David Treitel echoed the Prime Minister’s position, noting that the project needed not just the support of the Government, its agencies and the Opposition, but required a body to champion the project to completion, once it proved feasible. He further said that the project would need substantial resources, which should be obtained by soliciting and engaging the support of international organizations, as well as the airline operators.
Meanwhile, Vice President of the firm, Elliot Lees said after touring Port Bustamante yesterday, he and his team were impressed with the developments there and the Gordon Cay expansion. He said his company hoped to build on the strengths of the port by utilizing the Vernamfield airstrip. The team expressed appreciation for the Prime Minister’s support and said they looked forward to working with all the stakeholders.
The Prime Minister used the opportunity to emphasize that the government was, “trying not just to look at our traditional friends, but to expand its relationship with other countries, by looking at how their economies are doing and where these countries will be in a few years”. This strategy she said would benefit Jamaica in the long run, by opening doors and paving the way for mutually beneficial linkages with such countries.
SH&E is a leading aviation consulting firm with over 40 years of experience in air transportation. The proposed features for the Vernamfield Cargo Aerodrome and Airport (formerly the Fort Simmons USA Airbase) include: centralized cargo sorting and clearance centres for freight forwarding and corner services; commercial free zone shopping for international clientele; distribution centres; and a fully equipped aerodrome with telecommunication centre and flexible runway capabilities.
Other proposed features of the development include an integrated and fully equipped aircraft maintenance facility with fuel fields, servicing hangars, ground service equipment and storage facilities; designated military facilities; strategically placed customs, immigration and security check points; and a state of the art fire and rescue station. The estimated project costs are US$225.7 million in phase one and US$224.3 million in phase two.

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