Reminiscing on Goat Island Trans-shipment Port
THE EDITOR, Madam:
With our economy undoubtedly contracting almost to the point of stalling and seeing how the level of vaccine hesitancy is preventing a return to normalcy, I cannot help reflecting on how the Goat Island Trans-shipment Port would have given Jamaica an economic cushion against present and coming shocks.
In his announcement killing the project in 2016, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said there were more environmentally suitable locations for the project but what we thought was a pause to select another site was actually a full stop, as to date his administration has not identified that location.
Environmentalists, concerned about the last natural habitat of the Jamaican Iguana in the Portland Bight Protected Area, welcomed his announcement. As did uninformed critics of the project, some who asked “what will happen to the goats?”
How could such a potentially transformational project merely be shelved? This single project along with the accompanying Logistics Hub, the Vernamfield Airport project and Caymanas Industrial Park could by now account for more than 25 per cent of Jamaica’s economic output and, more important, would not have been decimated by COVID-19 as our tourism sector has been.
With the current shipping and logistics crisis facing the world and particularly how it is creating shortages in America, we are suddenly realising what we gave up. As important as the Kingston Trans-shipment Port presently is, it pales into insignificance against what the Goat Island Trans-shipment Port and Logistics Hub would have contributed not only to Jamaica’s economy but our importance in this hemisphere. I am not only thinking of the lease price and other benefits from the Chinese but the economic spin-offs and economic capacity the project would build.
I could merely be trapped in nostalgia here but the dire situation Jamaica now faces compels me to ask what happened? This was not a mere economic ripple. Goat Island would have created a wave big enough to buoy Jamaica.
Was it really the iguanas or was it just plain dirty local and geopolitics? Is mining the Cockpit Country less detrimental to Jamaica’s environment, its flora and fauna? Since we have zero evidence of successfully reclaiming mined-out lands in Jamaica, isn’t this a blatant double standard in development policy?
It takes big projects to create the major economic impact that advances nations but we treated our opportunity with scant regard and now are clutching at straws.