Western Jamaica weighs in on Logistics Hub discussion
MONTEGO BAY, St James - A wide cross-section of persons from across the western region of the island turned out in large numbers for a panel discussion on the Jamaica Logistics Hub initiative last Thursday.
The forum, which was staged by the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in collaboration with the University of the West Indies, Mona, Western Jamaica Campus, and the Caribbean Maritime Institute, was held at the Wexford Hotel in Montego Bay, under the theme: 'The Logistics Hub: Implications for Western Jamaica.'
Addressing participants, Executive Director, Caribbean Maritime Institute, Dr Fritz Pinnock argued that there has been a paradigm shift as it relates to cargo shipping and Jamaica needs to "get with the programme".
Expressing support for the proposal to utilise the Goat Islands for the development, Dr Pinnock noted that no shipping line is willing to invest in the outdated trans-shipment facilities that are available locally, as the industry demands new infrastructure.
He said the government's logistics hub concept is therefore very timely.
Pointing out that the Goat Islands development has the potential to create a number of economic opportunities for entrepreneurs, he said, "Jamaica is at such a strategic location coming out of the Panama Canal, so we can decide if we want to help to connect global trade".
He also challenged tertiary institutions to ensure that programmes are relevant to the development of the hub, as having a trained and equipped workforce is the only way to capitalise on the opportunities that will be presented.
"The logistics hub is not a place, it is a concept of development that incorporates multiple economic zones," he asserted.
Meanwhile, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, UWI, Mona, Professor Evan Dugan said the symposium provided an opportunity for the dissemination of important information and discussion among individuals and interest groups, about the numerous issues related to the development of the Logistics Hub.
"And for all to voice their opinions, and seek clarification on specific aspects of the impending development, particularly in relation to its socio-economic and business implications for this region," he added.
He said the impending development has sparked discussions on the value of economic prosperity, and environmental protectionism, adding that stakeholders on both sides of the issue have presented convincing arguments in support of their cause.
"I believe the logistics hub in particular, and sustainable development in general,are win-win arrangements, encompassing environmental, economic and social development for today and tomorrow," Professor Duggan stated.
He said Jamaica must therefore move decisively to establish the logistics hub.