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Ferguson cautions Gov't against scrapping South Coast highway

Dr. Fenton Ferguson Dr. Fenton Ferguson
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Member of Parliament for Eastern St Thomas, Dr Fenton Ferguson, says any suggestion of the abandonment of the St Thomas highway will not be accepted by the people of St Thomas.

In a statement to the media on Thursday, the Dr. Ferguson said there is a united front across party lines – young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural – who are prepared to utilise all peaceful and legal means to make the Government “explicitly” understand the indomitable spirit and determination of the people of St Thomas for their social and economic development and rights.

The Eastern St Thomas MP statement, came against the background of a statement by  Finance Minister Audley Shaw, that the Government was reviewing the construction of the Southern Coastal Highway.

He said that the US$500 million projected to construct the road from Harbour View to Morant Bay “just does not make economic sense”.

“US$500 million was projected to build a road from Harbour View to Morant Bay. Now, bear in mind that the North South Highway that has been built, and that the operators are now complaining that it has not yet reached a point of economic viability, and you see a considerable traffic on that artery...and expenditure on that highway was approaching US$700 million... how could we justify spending US$500 million from Harbour View to Morant Bay?” Shaw asked those attending the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry luncheon at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.

“Even if it is unpopular, the Government has a duty to do the necessary due diligence,” he said. “And what I want to assure the people of St Thomas is that, in the recasting of the estimate, we are going to ensure that there is a decent road from Harbour View to Morant Bay. We are going to ensure that, because the road will be upgraded, there will be a realignment of the road.”

However, at a news conference at Jamaica House, yesterday, Prime Minister Andrerw Holness has confirmed the scrapping of the plans announced under the previous administration for the South Coast Highway from Harbour View in Kingston to Port Antonio in Portland, but he says a road improvement project is still on.

According to Holness, under the reviewed road project, there will be a four-lane highway from Harbour View to Bull Bay while the road network from  Bull Bay to Morant Bay will be upgraded.

He said the corridor from Morant Bay to Port Antonio will also be upgraded as well as the thoroughfare from Morant Bay to Cedar Valley.

"It's a better plan," Holness said.

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