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Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said ways must be found to ensure that the construction of the North Coast Highway helps to boost economic opportunities in the communities along the highway corridor. She said this and other massive road works taking place across the country should help to transform the island’s towns and villages and bring new hope for the people in those communities.
She was speaking in Trelawny on Thursday (Dec. 14) at the official opening of Segment 2 of the North Coast Highway which runs from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios. The entire 270 km project from Negril to Port Antonio is expected to cost approximately US$300 Million.
Segment one from Negril to Montego Bay was opened in 2002 and segment three from Ocho Rios to Port Antonio is scheduled for completion in 2008.
Mrs. Simpson Miller who has consistently voiced her commitment to community development said these towns should not be by-passed and allowed to become forgotten towns. She cited the rich architectural and cultural heritage of towns such as Rio Bueno, Duncans and Falmouth, and said that creative ways must be found to ensure that they benefit from the increased traffic that will use the highway.
“We cannot allow the history, rustic charm and beauty of these towns to die. The towns and their people must benefit from the progress which the highway brings,” the Prime Minister stated.
She said the Northern Coastal Highway project was a significant development both in terms of its scope and the investment made in the country’s infrastructure. She said the highway would provide a springboard for social and economic development in other areas including agriculture, tourism and the construction.
She stressed that it was no secret that the timing of the construction of the Riu Hotel in Mamme Bay, Bahia Principe in Runaway Bay and Harmony Cove in Trelawny, were influenced by the highway development.
Mrs. Simpson Miller said that the government would not only be placing emphasis on large highway projects, but that housing scheme roads farm and agricultural roads as well as parochial roads, would receive attention from the government.
The Prime Minister said that the new highway was expected to reduce travel time by approximately 40 per cent. She said however that it made no sense for the government to spend millions of dollars to upgrade the road infrastructure for our roads to become a ‘killing field’ for citizens. She urged motorists to observe the speed limits and show care, courtesy and consideration to other road users.
The Prime Minister commended all the agencies and workers including the Ministry of Housing, Water, Transport and Works, environmentalist, as well as the hundreds of construction workers for their tremendous effort in making the project a success.