MoBay Chamber pleads for Gov't to urgently start bypass

MoBay Chamber pleads for Gov't to urgently start bypass

Observer writer

Thursday, January 14, 2021

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FREEPORT, St James — The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) is urging the Government to reconsider its decision to push back, until next year, the start of the planned construction of the US$220-million Montego Bay bypass.

At a press conference held in the resort city yesterday, MBCCI President Janet Silvera described the delay as “unacceptable”.

“... This delay is only adding to the already overwhelming constraints the region is currently faced with. The gridlock and atrocious traffic jams that are being experienced in Montego Bay make it extremely stressful for both employees and business owners alike to get to and from work,” said Silvera, stressing that “the commute is unbelievable”.

“We are therefore imploring the Government and the relevant authorities to reconsider this delay and start the construction of the Montego Bay bypass this year as was promised to the people of Montego Bay, because we have suffered enough,” said Silvera.

Last June, managing director of the National Road Operating and Constructing Company Limited (NROCC), Ivan Anderson, announced the delay of the multimillion-dollar project, attributing it to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The duration of the project is 36 months and we are expected to start in about 2022, subject to the approval of NEPA [National Environment and Planning Agency],” Anderson told a virtual town hall meeting hosted by NEPA and NROCC.

Silvera yesterday further argued that the absence of a bypass road for Montego Bay was not only negatively impacting businesses and employees, but students and tourists.

“The powers that be continue to take it for granted. Why has the Montego Bay bypass delayed when work is being done elsewhere? To be honest with you, we are tired of being treated as if Kingston is the only place in Jamaica. Kingston is not Jamaica and it is time that Montego Bay gets the bypass. It is a priority. It is needed now,” Silvera said.

The much-anticipated project is expected to be a 15-kilometre toll road stretching from the Rose Hall main road, in the vicinity of the Blue Diamond Shopping Centre, through the hills on to Bogue. The Long Hill bypass, as well as improvements to the Barnett Street and Westgreen section of Montego Bay, also form part of the project.

Mark Kerr-Jarrett, a director of the chamber, noted that a trip from the Sangster International Airport in the resort city to his home in Granville, which would normally take approximately eight to 10 minutes, took approximately four hours a few Fridays ago due to traffic congestion.

“The economic activity the construction of the bypass road will create is essential to the local economy and that piece of infrastructure must be in place to help and facilitate the economy recover when the time comes, “ said Kerr-Jarrett.

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