PM moving full speed ahead with projects amid objections
Chief executive officer at Derillion Energy Jamaica, Simon Piggot (left), points to the Mona Reservoir floating solar project launched on Wednesday. (Photo: Karl McLarty)

PRIME Minister Andrew Holness on Wednesday said the Government is committed to implementing beneficial projects for the nation despite constant backlash from some Jamaicans who have a negative overview on development.

"When I scan some of the commentary about the government's infrastructure and development projects, there appears to be an objection against development. There is a strong anti-development sentiment and it is because there is a lack of understanding and there is always a criticism that if the Government is trying to develop something, it is going to destroy the environment and ignore people," Holness said during the launch for the Mona Reservoir floating solar project in St Andrew.

"We are better than that. This Government has shown that we have the capacity to pursue major development projects, include the people, preserve the environment and improve the general aesthetics so that the human condition and the human development can be maximised," he said.

The prime minister's comments were against the backdrop of the US$62,500,000 solar project at the Mona Reservoir which was constructed by Derillion Energy Limited.

The solar system is expected to reduce energy consumption and should be desilting capacity gains — removal of sediments from the water supply — providing additional 768,000 m3 (cubic metres) of water.

"I think the debates that go on about developments generally should be more balanced and fairer to the Government. Yes, we do make mistakes but what I can say with certainty, is that all the projects this Administration has put in, we have considered the environmental, the social and the governance issues to ensure that the projects are sustainable, that they contribute to the reduction of emissions to protect our climate and that they build or resilience to respond to shocks — 1946 and we are still depending on this piece of infrastructure," said Holness.

The prime minister urged Jamaicans to have more appreciation for feasible projects which they will eventually benefit from.

"I don't want Jamaicans to be fearful when you see your government taking on massive nation building projects like the south-coast road improvement project, or extending the east-west highway, like building the Montego Bay Perimeter Road, housing projects we are putting in place. These are nation-building exercises that even the people who are criticising them now, will benefit from. I want Jamaica to adopt a forward leading posture in its modern development," he said.

"What you are seeing today, is another strategic and synergistic and nation-building decision that generations to come will benefit from," he added.

In the meantime, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda, said since the solar project is already bearing fruit.

Pointing to reports, Samuda said there was a 28 per cent reduction in Jamaica Public Service consumption for June and 30 per cent reduction in July when compared to May.

"This system does not currently have a battery back-up, and operates during daylight, so those savings will increase exponentially as this project is rolled out. This project will benefit National Water Commission (NWC) to the tune of $1 billion annually. That changes Mark's [State entity's president] ability to control the NWC to manage payment, and implement projects," he said.

Meanwhile, NWC Chairman Michael Shaw was pleased that the project will be beneficial for the State entity and Jamaicans.

"This is going to be a game changer and one of the biggest investments that this country has ever seen. We therefore contemplate the potential savings this is going to have on our country and the trickle-down effect to our consumers," he said.

The first phase of the pilot project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2024.

Brittny Hutchinson

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