This is it!

St Thomas residents exhale as PM vows that latest plan for old Goodyear factory will be implemented

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, June 27, 2019

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AFTER years of promises and the announcement of a number of grand schemes, residents of St Thomas yesterday witnessed a major step in the latest plan for the old Goodyear Tyre factory and applauded wildly as Prime Minister Andrew Holness vowed that this time there will be no false start.

At the ground breaking for the long-planned Morant Bay Urban Centre, Holness told the large crowd that his administration is committed to the project which will be undertaken by China Harbour Engineering Company at a cost of approximately $6.5 billion.

“We are breaking ground, we still have a few steps to go … and I am sure that those steps will be done quickly. But I want it to be known that the Government is standing behind this project and we will ensure that this project is done,” declared Holness.

“This is an important project, it is a signal project, it is a project that will say to the people of Jamaica, through the people of St Thomas, that the Government is serious about their development.

“So we must ensure that this project happens, that it happens in time and within the budget, and that the people can be proud of this development,” added Holness.

In the past the people of St Thomas have been told of major plans for the facility which once offered employment to scores of them.

In 2005, the then People's National Party Administration announced that the facility would be transformed into a major call centre operation, employing hundreds.

When that failed to materialise a new plan was announced in 2014 for the construction of a film lot on the property, with the possibility of a leading music and film production school in the United States building a campus there.

With those and other announcements failing to materialise, Holness yesterday accepted that there was a basis for cynicism and distrust by residents.

“The parish of St Thomas has been left behind since the abolition of slavery. Some believe it has been given a bad deal for its part in our fight for freedom and self-government.

“It has too often been referred to as the 'forgotten parish', but St Thomas historic importance to the struggles of our nation cannot be overstated and it is about time that the parish is recognised and get the attention it deserves,” said Holness.

He said the Government is embarking on a number of mega-projects, in the next three to five years, which will impact the lives of the people of St Thomas.

These include the expansion of the Norman Manley International Airport, the installation of a state-of-the-art floating barge and supporting facilities for the docking of cruise ships in Port Royal, and the construction of a four-lane highway from Harbour View, St Andrew to Yallahs, St Thomas, and the expansion of the main road from Yallahs to Port Antonio.

The Morant Bay Urban Centre was also listed by Holness as one of the major projects for the parish.

It is being spearheaded by the Factories Corporation of Jamaica and will be designed to house a number of entities including the St Thomas Municipal Corporation, and office for the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency, and a branch of the Registrar General's Department.

An office of Tax Administration Jamaica, a Justice Square with a parish court, family court and police post, commercial banks and other operations are also expected to be based in the new facility.


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