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Eastern Coastal Highway Project Halted… Due to Alleged Extortion…

February 16, 2021 | Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie |

Consultation and not Confrontation is the Hiway being taken …

We recently awoke to the news that nefarious characters have circulated a letter demanding a certain sum of cash in exchange for protection, gang style or blood will flow on the Eastern Coastal Highway Project. Linking  St. Thomas to Portland and Kingston.


St. Thomas is no stranger to violence. The Morant Bay war aka Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865 is well documented. This event has shaped the political direction of Jamaica most significantly.  Blood flowed freely then in 1865. Will history repeat itself in 2021?  We hope not. They also say lightening does not strike at the same place twice.  We also hope this will be proven to not happen.

The ability of the powers at be to mount a counter offensive to crush any perceived threat to the constituted authority at the hierarchy of the constituency leadership in Western St. Thomas, where the highway is being built should not be underestimated.  The apparent niceness of the power brokers should not be interpreted as softness. No way, it could be death and destruction if a road not yet apparently taken today is entered onto.  Be warned not to test the resolve of the constituted legal authority.

A highly placed source who cannot be Identified for obvious reasons has told me: We will give you he source name as x.

HO’C-D: What do you think will happen in response to this threat of Extortion?

X: “James does not want to go down that road the violence route he would prefer to have the matter settled peacefully and differently”

 HO’C-D: Are all the leaders on board with that approach?

X : “No, some of the turks are not impressed with this soft approach.”

HO’C-D: What will happen then?

X: “We will have to wait and see hopefully good sense will prevail.  The area is extremely tense”

HO’C-D: How is MP James reacting to unfolding events?

X: “He is very cool. Keeping his views and cards close to his chest.  He is usually a cool operator”

HO’C-D : Are there behind the scenes talks taking place?

X: “I am privy to no such talks, so I cannot say as much things are very tense that’s all I am prepared to say at this time well.

HO’C-D: Do keep me posted if there is anything worthy to report”

X: You would be the first to get a heads up Dennie later”

HO’C-D: Keep safe I beg you.

This highly coded responses are instructive to put it mildly.

Pressed for more details the source further confirmed the incident and further opined:

“Well, there was a stoppage, and the matter is being dealt with.  The police may or may not be involved”

Read into that final comment what you will. It is clear to me that consultations and not confrontation appears to be the hiway preferred … no pun intended.

Pendalum Swing

The wordsmith and creator of this perspective wishes to make it abundantly clear that it should not be construed that Daryl Vaz, Phillip Pauwell nor James Robertson, all of whom are multiple reelected Members of Parliament on both sides of the House, and who have lost their United States Visas for varying reasons, to date not disclosed,  are not known by us to be involved in thuggery or gang style conduct. Interestingly, all the three named MPs have all at some point been in Opposition and government at some time in their long and distinguished political careers.  We have not even a thread of evidence to support any notion of their connection to any illegal activity.  Our analysis of possible outcome of events is as  predicable as the forecast of tomorrow’s weather and is therefore highly speculative.  Any perceptions that we may have gleaned, are based on unsubstantiated or unreliable street talk or plain rumors. The pendulum, as you all know, can swing any way. Things could change in a flash.

Ironically Phillip Pauwell was born at the Princess Margaret Hospital, located close to the capital of St. Thomas, Morant Bay. This makes him a local boy, a native of St. Thomas (by birth).

Thread Cautiously

My advice to the proponents of extortion in the East, is to wise up and not make any silly moves that may cause to have to pay the ultimate price for.  Life is too short and precious to take such a risk.  It would be so risky that it could make the circus high wire walker appear to be involved in is child’s play.  Trust me on this analysis.

Let the construction go on. Thuggery will not be allowed to stop the long overdue development for the Parish of St. Thomas. No way! Interestingly,  there are two electoral seats in the Parish. The JLP won both East and West St. Thomas seats in the September 3, 2020 General Elections. Also in Portland where the highway will link .. has two seats and the JLP won then both in the last General Elections. So from far east to near west it is as they like to say “JLP country .” A wife and husband team. Daryl and Ann-Marie Vaz,  both are MPs for the JLP in east and west Portland.

There are a lot of labourites out there to contend with … so beware!

Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is a veteran journalist and also a native of the Parish, having been born in Arcadia District,  Port Morant, St. Thomas.  He even has international exposure.

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