EXECUTIVE Director of the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) Dr Fritz Pinnock has plans to establish a trans-shipment port and logistics hub in Jamaica as the best business opportunities the country has ever seen.
He, however, urged the Government to devise a sustainable plan that would ensure that Jamaicans are trained to take on the specialised jobs the new business ventures will afford.
"It is one of our best and last greatest opportunity for this country," argued Dr Pinnock, who pointed out that existing facilities such as the Kingston Container Terminal is not conducive to supporting a globally competitive value-added logistics hub.
"Rather than this fear factor, we have to wake up and realise that we are in a new world, the world is not the same anymore," he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
Recent revelation that Government is considering plans to have the Chinese Government build a port at Goat Islands, located off the coast of the Old Harbour Bay, has been met with much resistance from environment lobby groups, which argued that it would pose some amount of risks to the wildlife and individuals who make a living off the sea.
Dr Pinnock said he has noted concerns about the environmental impact creating such a hub at Goat Islands, could create, and has called for a more holistic approach to planning, instead of the shelving of such a business venture.
"Whatever we do, the environment have to be protected, but we cannot operate in a stupid way where we shut down everything and we do nothing," he said.
Dr Pinnock is a part of a joint mission that leaves the island today for Panama, to seek out internship and externship opportunities for Jamaicans who want to garner more experience in logistics from the expansion of the Panama Canal, which is to completed in 2014. The logistics expert will be accompanied by representatives from local universities and will be meeting with officials from Panamanian institutions and companies to garner more insight on how to operate at a satisfactory level on the international stage.
"The logistics hub and the future employees that people are looking for are not just people with degrees and certificate, but people with competence and attitude and the whole attitude is something that we don't cater for in our education system, apart from a few institutions like the Caribbean Maritime Institute, where 30 per cent of your grades actually come from your conduct," he said.
The CMI offers degree programmes and courses in engineering, logistics and shipping, security administration and customs processes and immigrations.