Stakeholders in Montego Bay Pleased with PM’S Announcement

The recent announcement by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, of planned infrastructural development for Montego Bay, St. James, is being greeted by stakeholders in the tourism capital as “a massive step” in the right direction.

From taxi operators to restaurants, duty-free and villa owners, the consensus is that Montego Bay badly needs the infrastructural upgrade, notably the bypass road, where the city’s major problem with traffic congestion would immediately be alleviated.

“I live in Hanover and work in Rose Hall, St. James… [so] this is indeed great news,” said Security Officer, William Black.

“I cannot begin to tell you the kind of stress and headache I have to go through daily just to get to work and back. This is great news,” he told JIS News in a recent interview.

For Duty Free Merchant, Ravi Daswani, of Royal Shop, the Prime Minister’s announcement could not have come at a better time for Montego Bay.

“My take is simple… nothing of significance can happen in this country without taking Montego Bay into consideration. The perennial problem for Montego Bay has been traffic congestion. It is one of the most frustrating things where you want to get to a meeting or to simply move from point A to point B and find yourself stuck in traffic. A bypass road to get rid of all that stress is certainly the correct response,” he said.

Owner of the Pink Hibiscus Villa in Ironshore, St. James, Shirley James, is “totally ecstatic”.
“We have been lobbying for this for a long time,” she noted.

The Prime Minister, in his March 18 Budget Debate presentation, noted that Montego Bay, as Jamaica’s number-one tourist destination, is in need of major infrastructural development.

“Montego Bay is Jamaica’s number-one tourist destination. Montego Bay also has an international airport which, in normal times, is Jamaica’s busiest. In addition, the Montego Bay port welcomed cruise ships at least two days per week prior to COVID-19,” the Prime Minister pointed out.

“Traffic congestion has been a longstanding issue in the City of Montego Bay, as there is essentially one main thoroughfare connecting the east with west. A 2017 study of traffic through the City showed that daily traffic reached in excess of 57,845 vehicles per day which is the highest traffic volume islandwide, outside of the Kingston and St. Andrew area, and exceeds the capacity of the main thoroughfare by over 11,000 vehicles per day,” Mr. Holness noted.

He said that even with tourism at multi-decade lows in terms of occupancy, Montego Bay remains congested, further noting that once the world gets over COVID-19, tourism in the St. James capital will continue to grow “and the congestion will worsen”.

“The time has come to finally get the Montego Bay Bypass done. Growth in the tourism sector will result in additional traffic being generated by the airport and seaport, as well as additional traffic throughput in the city to access various attractions in and around Montego Bay; this includes traffic intending to bypass the city,” the Prime Minister added.

Transport operator, Joseph Lloyd, said that “as a taxi man, the news of infrastructural upgrade to include the cleaning of drains and the construction of a bypass are stuff I have been longing to hear”.

“Whenever it rains, Montego Bay floods out, causing traffic to backup big time. The drains continue to be a major problem and we do need a bypass, so that we can free up traffic in the town,” he said.

For her part, owner of the popular Smokeez by the Sea restaurant, in Rose Hall, Roxanne Maragh, said that not only is the news from the Prime Minister welcoming, but “it will make Montego Bay and its environs a lot more attractive”.

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