It is with a deep sense of grief and profound sadness that we recognise the passing of the Most Hon. Edward Phillip George Seaga, ON, P.C., LL.D., Jamaica’s fifth Prime Minister and founder of the Urban Development Corporation.
It was during his initial tenure as Minister of Finance and Planning that Mr. Seaga, in 1968, established the Urban Development Corporation (UDC). Through the UDC, the waterfronts of Kingston, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios were developed into business, residential, port and resort complexes. This led to the subsidiary, St. Ann Development Company (SADCO) which manages the assets of the UDC which include, Dunn’s River Falls and Park, the Green Grotto Caves and Attractions, Ocho Rios Bay Beach and Turtle River Park.
Under his guidance, the UDC spearheaded the development of Negril as a resort area. Notably, two-thirds of the choice real estate for development was acquired by the UDC at Mr. Seaga’s initiative to establish a land bank. This included Orange Bay which was declared the site for an innovative pilot shelter project developed and unveiled in 1983. Similar planned developments with major infrastructural work was undertaken, to include 26 miles of roadway and water mains to open up the Hellshire Hills area of St Catherine, Bloody Bay, and Ackendown (Westmoreland). Mr. Seaga’s insights also included the 12,316 acres Caymanas Estate, which was acquired in 1983 for future development.
In 1985, Mr. Seaga established the Metropolitan Parks and Markets (MPM) as a subsidiary of the UDC to be responsible for public cleansing, beautification and the maintenance of the parks and markets in the city of Kingston and other specified urban areas. This includes the formation of the 94 acre West Kingston Market area (five major wholesale and retail markets) which became a major development focus for the UDC between 1980 and 1981.
In addition to the UDC, Mr Seaga established, encouraged, promoted or introduced several institutions which are integral to the Jamaican development landscape. These include, the Jamaica Stock Exchange (1969), Jamaica Unit Trust (1970), Jamaica Mortgage Bank (1973), National Development Bank (1981), the Agricultural Credit Bank (1981), the Ex-Im Bank (1986) and the Students’ Loan Bureau. The highly successful Jamaica National Investment Promotion Ltd. (now JAMPRO), was created by him in 1981 as a one-stop investment organization to promote local and overseas investment in Jamaica.
His impact and legacy will live on well beyond just these areas, expanding into agriculture, sports and the arts. The Chairman, Board and staff of the UDC are inspired by the legacy of such a leader who trusted the UDC with one of the most important tasks of his political career, the rebuilding of the Kingston Waterfront and developing Ocho Rios’ potential for its waterfront. This project also led to the modernization of Kingston Harbour which brought Jamaica to the forefront of Regional and International trade. In his own words, Mr Seaga stated….“Rebuilding the Kingston Waterfront and developing the Ocho Rios’ potential for its waterfront, were two of the biggest investments ever undertaken by the Government of Jamaica. They were so large, that no private business entity would have undertaken them…. The Kingston Waterfront and Ocho Rios development projects, were carried out by the newly formed Urban Development Corporation (UDC), which was equipped and staffed, to make these massive projects possible.”
The nation is poorer for his passing, but infinitely made richer by his commitment to development, modernization and economic transformation of Jamaica.
We extend our deepest condolences to family, colleagues and friends.