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By Balford Henry, Observer Snr Reporter
October 27, 2013:
Bruce Golding
The Honourable Orette Bruce Golding, Former Prime Minister of Jamaica

Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding has admitted that he too has fears about Jamaica’s Goat Islands being turned into a Chinese enclave.

“The big danger is, and Mike (Henry) was right, that what we may end up with, if it proceeds, is a Chinese enclave out at Goat Islands, employing Chinese workers, handling Chinese goods and all that we are going to be able to do is to look at them from the beaches at Old Harbour,” Golding said.

He was the guest presenter at the 2013 CIN Caribbean Lecture Series at the Schomburg Centre for Research in Black Culture, New York City, on Tuesday.

Golding said that he did not think that the environmental concerns should be overlooked, but he felt the country could determine quickly if the proposed US$1.5 billion hub to be constructed on the small islands by Chinese investors and builders was environmentally friendly.

“But, my view is completely different from that. When Mike Henry was negotiating the project with the Chinese, we insisted that it had to be on the mainland, and we were looking at various sections of Old Harbour, between the JPS power plant and the Windalco terminal at Port Esquivel (St. Catherine).

“I was concerned that a project like that could be established on Goat Islands which, at the nearest point to us, is over one mile from our shoreline. Our people can’t swim out there to look work!” Golding stated.
He said that Henry’s intention was to integrate the hub with the port system, and a cargo airport which was being planned for Vernamfield, to become an integral part of the economy.

Like Golding, Henry, the former Minister of Transport and Works, who originated discussions on the possibility of China investing in a logistic hub on Jamaica’s south coast under the previous government, to fit in with the expansion of the Panama Canal by 2015, insisted that it should not be on the off-shore Goat Islands.

But, the current Government announced in September, during a visit to China by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and a team, that it had renewed discussions with China on Goat Islands as their first choice for the proposed development of the transshipment port and economic zone, under the Global Logistics Hub Initiative.
However, after concerns heightened about the environmental threat.

Minister of Transport, Works and Housing Dr Omar Davies, assured the House of Representative in mid-September, that the Government would not be making any decision on the development of Goat Islands, until a study commissioned by the Port Authority of Jamaica on the environmental impact is completed and assessed.




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