There is no denying that speedy, smooth roadways are frontiers to progress … providing safe getaways to work, recreation, to visit family for production, you name it. Hi Ways open hither to barren or useless forested lands for factories, housing, play fields, oil fields, mining, quarry … even mineral exploration etc. The benefits are needless.
This activity can stimulate any economy due to its value added component.
My support for a free market cannot be over stressed … an investor who has invested hard earned resources of cash, entrepreneurial skill, taken risks, invented a product, provided jobs, paid taxes, paid nterest on loans etc. all deserve to be rewarded with a decent return on their investment (s). To deny such a return … in my perspective is bordering on the criminal. Every government should create an atmosphere that attracts, encourages and stimulate business development, start up, and growth. Cutting red tape, bungling, undue bureaucracy, and interference is not acceptable and could send the wrong signal to an investor or potential investor.
On the other hand it cannot be a free for all with no agreed guidelines going forward so there can be a win win for all.
Both the investor and the consumer/citizen need to be protected … that is why in a democracy we freely elect governments. Governments to protect our sovereignty, our borders, and to stand up for us locally and especially internationally.
There are the courts, mediation mechanisms etc … in event there are disputes.
A government needs to be on guard for us at all times to protect its citizens first and be fair to others.
It makes no sense laying down the most beautiful hi Way and the people cannot afford same. It has always been a Chinese policy of quick sale and small profit. These Chinese investors in Jamaica today seem to believe in slow/low sale and exorbitant profit. If this is so, this is un- Chinese and out of what we have always perceived as their modus operandi or character. Why have they adopted this apparent new posture in Jamaica? Did they see our governments as weak?
An investment of US$720 million dollars is nothing to scoff at. It is a large investment and must bring a decent return for the investor.
In my perspective the negotiations to lay down this North Coast Highway were flawed. More homework should have been done. It was too elaborate and we were not ready economy wise to afford such an exorbitant development. It is good to boast of first world development and progress, but affordability has to be factored in the equation.
It should further be understood that this, my perspective, should never be viewed as anti-investor, In my own right, I am an investor and businessman myself … but a realist, a patriot, a Jamaican and most of all not just a showman.
80 percent increase …
Red flags went up from there was the eighty percent increase in rates on the Linstead leg of the North Coast hi way last year (2015). Class 1, cars and small SUVS moved from J$200 to J$300. This was a 80 or so increase. Vision warned then that this was not a good trend as the increase was too steep.
I am all for success and development but within a context of good sense and wise judgement. There seems to have been little or no forecasting done in the whole scheme of things. Being a showpiece to the world appeared to have been the only motivation.
Secret Talks in China
The new JLP Government should examine the details of secret talks held in China by the then PM, Portia Simpson Miller and her delegation. What did they sign …did they sell out Jamaica cheaply to the Chinese? We have learnt that 1200 acres of prime lands are to be given to the Chinese, as part of this secret deal. Is this so?
Is this rumour and not a fact? Bilateral agreements should be documented and available for scrutiny. Where are these documents? Hopefully not in Simpson Miller’s drawers … at you know where? Succeeding government needs to know.
Was Goat Island part of this deal? Is this so? This is not a Communist State, were operate differently from what happens in most Communist and other non democratically run states. We are supposed to be democratic, that is why we can change our government … we operate differently to what prevails in say China. We can freely and peacefully demonstrate and show our disapproval and hopefully not be massacred as happened in Tianaman Square.
I am not advocating civil unrest,but we cannot rule out that possibility … after
all we are a democracy and peaceful demonstrations are to the best of my knowledge and belief are not illegal.
We hope it will not reach to that … is it too late to renegotiate this apparent bitter sweet deal?
Is the North Coast hi way a route to prosperity or a hi way robbery? As usual you be the judge. The verdict is yours as you are the jury. You have proven your competences.
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is Senior International Correspondent & Photojournalist for Vision Newspaper Canada.