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Longer runway for Sangster airport

Sunday, March 02, 2014    

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THE runway at the Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay is to be extended at a cost of US$65 million.

The airport, which forms a critical part of the country's tourism infrastructure, was privatised in 2003. Since then it has undergone major improvements, making it comparable with any first- world facility.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller made the announcement last Friday, while addressing an Economic Reform Programme (ERP) stakeholders' conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St James.

She pointed out that due to the existing length of the runway, the airport is unable to accommodate "certain sized aircraft".

"Specific steps have been taken to address this. The design for the expansion of the runway by another 450 metres has been completed, and the Airports Authority has begun acquiring the additional parcels of land which will be needed," she informed.

She stated that there are some minor details to be worked out between the Airports Authority and the present lessee of the facility, adding that as soon as those discussions are completed the project should get started.

The prime minister said that a number of other projects are to come on stream, aimed at boosting economic growth and employment opportunities.

Among them is construction of the North/South link of Highway 2000. The Linstead to Moneague leg is expected to open mid-year, and the entire project is scheduled for completion by 2016.

"When completed, this road will open up for housing and commercial development areas of the country which have been hampered by limited accessibility. Additionally, many critical elements that contribute to the nation's tourism product can be found on the north coast," she stated.

Plans for the proposed development of a transshipment facility, and an economic zone in the Goat Island/ Portland Bight

area of southern St Catherine were also mentioned by the prime minister.

She stated that although the Government is still in discussions with the proposed investor, Cabinet has laid down clear steps to ensure that regulatory requirements are adhered to before a final decision is taken.

"We have been frank and open with the country about this project, and we welcome a healthy debate about the environmental and other issues," she stated.

She emphasied that the Government does not intend for the rest of the world to leave Jamaica behind, as the country is going for growth and development.

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