It has been reported that it is the intention of the Government of Jamaica to enter into an agreement with the Chinese to build the planned "Logistics Hub" on Goat Island off the coast of Old Harbour in St Catherine. This agreement and plan carries with it some extremely serious implications for the renewal and rebuilding of downtown Kingston.
As is known to all concerned, the state of dereliction, which exist in that area between the Jamaica Railway Corp up to East Street running along Harbour Street in the south and extending to the north up to and including Barry Street, came about in part, as a result of the moving of the ports westward to their new location. Along with moving the ports, the offices of custom brokers, freight forwarders and other logistic services providers also moved to new locations, and with them caterers and other support service providers.
It is equally known, that today, the bulk of manufactured goods and some industrial raw materials and machinery passing through the waters of the Caribbean from the Panama Canal, have their origins in China. Are the Chinese going to have their own logistic hub on Goat Island and use the logistic services available at Kingston Harbour for the processing and tracking of their exports? Would that make good business sense?
In my view, it would not. If most of the containers destined for this region are from China, would the Chinese who own their own logistics hub retain an interest in using the services and storage provided at Kingston Harbour? I do not think that would be in their best interest. If the Chinese own their own business hub in Old Harbour, are they going to allow cargo from Central and South America destined to China via the Panama Canal to use the services and berthing facilities provided at Kingston Harbour?
Thus, what one is dealing with is the strategic downgrading of Kingston Harbour and its logistic services, forcing logistics service providers to migrate to Goat Island or as close to it as they can get. Such a migration of logistics service providers would have a devastating social and economic impact on the entire area around Newport East and West, with the ports becoming specialised in the handing of motor vehicles and minor goods from regional countries.
Given the failure of the members of Parliament from the constituencies in which the Kingston Harbour is located to make suitable representation of the interests of their constituents and the business operators who ply their businesses in these constituencies, the Mayor of Kingston needs to take immediate action to protect the economic and social welfare of the city and in doing so protect the economic and social interests of the capital of Jamaica.
It is also my view, that steps need to be taken immediately to seek to expand the services of the Kingston Harbour to include the berthing of cruise ships and providing the logistics and maintenance services they need for their normal operations.