Current Affairs

Current Affairs



Highway promise
Patterson says North Coast road priority after elections
EVERARD OWEN, Observer correspondent
Friday, August 09, 2002

A section of the large crowd of People's National Party (PNP) supporters in the Annotto Bay square Wednesday night to listen to PNP president P J Patterson and greet the party's seven general elections candidates from Region Two, comprising the parishes of St Thomas, Portland and St Mary. (Photo: Everard Owen)

ANNOTTO BAY, St Mary -- Prime Minister P J Patterson, obviously oozing confidence, told jubilant People's National Party (PNP) supporters in Annotto Bay Wednesday night that his administration would make the third leg of the North Coast Highway a priority after the next general elections.

"When the election is over, one of my first activities will be to break ground and start the work on segment three of the North Coast Highway running from Ocho Rios to Manchioneal," Patterson said. "I have instructed the minister of transport and works to make sure everything is ready so that we can get moving to start that section when the election is over."

Work on the first phase of the North Coast Highway, running from Negril to Montego Bay, started in September 1999 and was eventually completed a few months ago after missing numerous deadlines.

The delay-pagued project has been a source of embarrassment for the Government which is hoping that the next two phases -- Montego Bay to Ocho Rios, which has already started, and Ocho Rios to Portland -- will not experience the same hitches.

On Wednesday night, Patterson, who has said he would call general elections by year-end, told the meeting, called to introduce the PNP's seven candidates in St Mary, Portland and St Thomas, that he had the financing ready for the highway's third phase and that work on the second phase was advanced.

Said Patterson: "I man find the money. I man preside over the design. I man ensuring that we acquire the land..."

He presented the candidates:

* Anthony Hylton -- West St Thomas;

* Fenton Ferguson -- East St Thomas;

* Donald Rhodd -- East Portland;

* Errol Ennis -- West Portland;

* Harry Douglas -- South-East St Mary, all sitting MPs; and

* newcomers Morais Guy -- Central St Mary; and

* Neil McGill -- West St Mary.

Naming them the 'magnificent seven', Patterson told the excited supporters that he would call the elections when he was sure that all the party's candidates islandwide were ready.

"Little more will be show time, and only one man can fly the gate," he bragged. "And we getting there. I have to make sure, though, I know you are ready... When I am sure that the six regions are ready, I am ready to fly the gate."

He said that when the PNP was ready, there was no force in Jamaica, the Caribbean or the world that could turn them back.

"We are coming into the last furlong, and the time is coming and it soon come, when Gabriel is going to blow his horn," Patterson said to loud cheers.

"We are coming around the bend and I don't want anybody to say, because of the crowd in Brown's Town and Annotto Bay, we done win already," he warned. "We going to win, but we want to win by a landslide."

He, therefore, charged his supporters to spread the word about what his administration has done for the country, arguing that the PNP has always been the vanguard of change.

"... every meaningful change to advance the lot of the people of our country has taken place under the watch of the People's National Party," Patterson said.

One of his vice-presidents, Dr Peter Phillips, who is also the national security minister, told the meeting that the PNP's manifesto "will be published when the trumpet sounds".

Added Phillips: "We have a lot of ideas to continue the progress of the people for the fourth term. We are going to make sure that we continue building a peaceful and secure place. We have the plans and we are going to start to ensure that we repair every single police station in Jamaica so that the security forces can have the kind of facilities to enable them to serve you better.

"We are going to ensure, beginning next month, that there will be the equipment, starting with 100 additional cars for the police force for them to serve you. We are going to bring them better equipment and introduce community policing throughout the length and breadth of Jamaica so that the people of Jamaica and the police will act as one."