The ‘Inelegant’ Corridor and other MoBay anomalies
It is an established and indisputable fact that Montego Bay is the gateway to Jamaica’s thriving tourism industry. Indeed, the western city (some prefer to say second) has been dubbed the Tourism Mecca of the Caribbean, Jamaica’s tourism capital and the Complete Resort, not to mention the ‘Republic’ and, finally, the fastest-growing urban centre economically and otherwise in the Caricom region.
Then there is the expanding business outsourcing sector that has led to some leading stakeholders boasting that MoBay is on its way to becoming the “Silicon Valley of the Caribbean”. With all these admirable attributes, one would have thought that this burgeoning ‘metropolis’, which contributes significant amounts of money to the national coffers, would enjoy a special place at the decision-making table at Jamaica House where the executive branch of Government (the Cabinet) meets regularly and deliberates on how to carve up the national pie in order to determine who gets what, when, how, and where.
But, alas, with a few exceptions, this has traditionally not been the case. Take, for example, the city’s major thoroughfare that cuts through the city’s most expensive real estate area, comprising top-class hotels, swanky residences, world-renowned golf courses among other high-end resort facilities, which has been named the Elegant Corridor. Yuk! Come on, there is very little elegance exuding from that unattractive, treacherous roadway that has seen so many frequent motor vehicle accidents — many of them fatal or horrendous in terms of serious injuries.
Other negative aspects to the ‘Inelegant Corridor’ is that it is poorly lit at nights, and there is a section — when one is travelling from the Falmouth end to Ironshore — that, to put it bluntly, is a roller-coaster ride. Indeed, a sign should be appropriately placed to warn unsuspecting motorists to fasten their seat belts, because it is going to be a turbulent experience.
Incidentally, part of the recurring problem with poor lighting is that reckless motorists oftentimes crash into the utility poles destroying them, several of which have not been replaced. In this regard, there was a half-hearted statement coming from the National Works Agency (NWA) sometime ago that between itself and the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) they would seek to recoup funds through insurance to replace these damaged poles from the guilty drivers. Has this worked?
Many years ago, when that thoroughfare was being built, a spokesperson of the main contractor remarked at the official opening that if he were going to be stationed in Montego Bay he would establish a morgue along that roadway, because it was likely to be the scene of many road fatalities. Needless to say, his prophetic words, though seemingly callous, have come to pass. Against this backdrop, when will the authorities come to the fore and deal with these niggling issues plaguing the yet-to-be fully functioning Elegant Corridor?
In the meantime, the ‘Kingston is Jamaica’ syndrome continues to stymie Montego Bay’s overall development needs. As an aside, last weekend saw a strange occurrence unfolding at the Montego Bay Convention Centre during the visit of the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach, which saw no official representation from the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Administration in attendance. This gaping scenario led to many whispers of consternation from those in attendance, especially a number of sporting luminaries, including Jamaican Olympians, who pointed to the fact that this was the first time that the Olympic body’s head was visiting the island. It is understood that Sport Minister Babsy Grange was overseas, but her junior minister, Alando Terrelonge, did not attend neither did anyone close to the Andrew Holness Administration, which led to the speculation by some that the visit had been boycotted because it was being held in Montego Bay and not Kingston.
Efforts to contact a relevant spokesperson have proven futile so far, but if this were not the case then an official explanation should be forthcoming.
Montego Bay’s Mayor Leeroy Williams must be commended for his attending the historic event in the face of this seeming rebuff and the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) led by its indefatigable President Christopher Samuda must be commended for pulling off a successful event, despite what seemed to have been a stumbling block.
Meanwhile, the St James Municipal Corporation remains hobbled by the lack of well-needed autonomy to sufficiently enable it to carry out some of the major functions required to improve life in the city as a result of its having to go “pee-pee, cluck-cluck” to the Ministry of Local Government with hat in hand to get any meaningful assistance, financially and otherwise, to get things done.
In this vein, the stalemate surrounding the inactivity of the St James Parish Development Committee (PDC) needs to be urgently addressed by Minister Desmond McKenzie. Among the issues that the PDC was mandated to pursue were:
1) sourcing international funding for the harmonisation of the various plan processes and the preparation of a St James Development Plan;
2) develop a multi-use catalyst project in the market district for the provision of housing and commercial solutions in keeping with the request of the minister of housing;
3) develop a comprehensive sustainable growth strategy for St James in collaboration with The University of the West Indies; University of Technology, Jamaica, and other stakeholders;
4) advocacy campaign for the development of the proposed Inner Development Road (Fairfield to Ironshore) and the Peri-Urban Road (Bogue to Salt Marsh);
5) the completion of the St James Development Order; and
6) advocacy for the proposed two new town developments (Cambridge and Adelphi).
While some aspects of these proposals have been tackled by administrations at the local and central government levels, it is fair to say that the city is far from getting the overall attention it so desperately deserves on a sustainable basis. A resurrection of the PDC would see to greater participation from the general citizenry in the decision-making process which would ultimately lead to better governance outcomes. Dare we to dream that this will happen? More anon.
Thank you, Observer
I am happy to share in the historic milestone of the Jamaica Observer marking its 30th anniversary. Thanks to Desmond Allen, the late Gordon “Butch” Stewart, and Vernon Davidson for having given me the opportunity to be a contributor as a columnist for these three glorious decades.
On the occasion of its 10th anniversary I was presented with a plaque which read “The Jamaica Observer is proud to recognise Lloyd B Smith for contribution to the development of this newspaper and for writing a column consistently since March 1993. Through your columns, you have helped to inform the national conversation and thus contribute to the growth of ideas and democracy in Jamaica. We salute you.” I am humbly grateful and hope that I have continued to live up to those expectations. Long live the Jamaica Observer!
Lloyd B Smith has been involved full-time in Jamaican media for the past 47 years. He has also served as a Member of Parliament and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. He hails from western Jamaica, where he is popularly known as the Governor. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or firstname.lastname@example.org.