A fuss has started in the House of Representatives and elsewhere about how the Montego Bay Perimeter Project ought to be administered. But based upon what has transpired in the construction industry in recent years, only one company should be allowed to take on such a project – China Harbour Engineering Company – CHEC for short.

The suggestion by the Opposition is surprising, for its members need only to look around the Jamaican landscape to see that CHEC is head and shoulders above all others when it comes to delivering general construction projects in reasonable time, and without consistent overruns.

It is always good to encourage local contractors, but they do not give you much to jump and shout about, and as such, we should drop this ‘because they are Jamaican’ nonsense and do what’s best for the country.

Let’s take a look at some of the major construction projects undertaken in recent time by local contractors and then determine if they have not let down the Jamaican people. It is easy to highlight that along Constant Spring Road, or Washington Boulevard, but let’s visit St Mary and view the work on the Broadgate to Chovey Road (Georgia) improvement project. Utter disaster! That project started in 2016 and still cannot be finished. As far as I remember, the initial budget was around $670 million; now the cost has gone three times over that, and it is still a mess. One Government official even told me recently that it may never be finished.

The Government is right on the MoBay initiative. CHEC it should be. It’s painful when you have to go through Montego Bay traffic, and it’s an even greater heartache traversing the Long Hill Road. From the look of things, no local company can do what is required.

More Chinese food will nourish the body.

Proud of the police’s action

(Crime scene tape)

Many views have emerged in respect of the action by the police last week following reports that two men who were involved in the murder of a businessman minutes before, were shot dead along busy Trafalgar Road in New Kingston.

Even human rights organisations and INDECOM have raised questions about what happened.

From the videos that I saw on social and traditional media, it appeared that the police did a decent job of putting men, whose modus operandi it seems is to be perennially married to the gun, out of their misery. The police’s approach was level-headed and calm.

We are told that one man escaped the police operation and was still at large up to yesterday, but it should not be difficult to find that individual, if, as the police said, he was believed to have been shot and injured.

I also listened on Nationwide Radio to two people whose views I value highly my elder at Kingston College, Bobby Finzi-Smith, and my friend of 40 years Professor Anthony Harriott who both commended the police for the manner in which they handled the operation, although ‘Prof’ was a bit cautious in doing so.

There is talk that the police did not give the men a chance to surrender, but what should the law enforcers have done? As far as we are told, the shooting was started by men in the Toyota Axio motor car in which they were travelling.

In the midst of bumper to bumper traffic did anyone expect a policeman to walk up to the car, knock on a window, wait for someone to wind it down, at which point the policeman would say ‘Gentlemen, the police would like to have a word with you? So put down your weapons, step out of the car, and let’s talk. I can assure you that if you are not the ones we want, I will drive with you to the nearest Burger King or KFC and you order whatever you desire, on my bill.’

This one is not over yet, and INDECOM still has a report that will likely be made public. But, if it can be confirmed that people who killed the man along Old Hope Road in St Andrew were the same ones who were cut down a short distance away, then no tears should be shed.

The job of the police is difficult. And it haunts me to see how many Jamaicans die each year at the hands of criminals, most of whom carry guns that are not sanctioned by the Firearm Licensing Authority.

I’m still trying to figure out how men in particular go around the island and cause mayhem with pistols and high-powered weapons. In earlier years, I became aware of guns as my father owned two legal ones a .38 ‘short gun’ and one we would call a ‘long gun’. As he expanded his family to three boys the guns disappeared from the house and were deposited into the State’s arsenal; he wanted to take no chance with the young and inquisitive.

My physical association with a gun in later years, apart from being held up by criminals at Rockfort, East Kingston, was limited to one occasion at a cricket match. A policeman, my friend, who was playing a game at Mango Valley in St Mary was going out to bat and asked me to keep his pistol. Knowing that he would not stay long at the crease, I took it from him and stashed it in a place no one would look. True to form, he made three runs, and his gun was returned to him six minutes after he had handed it to a trembling individual who should have known better and denied the initial request to keep and care.

That left me to wonder how so many people carry guns that are deemed illegal in this country, and use them to slaughter so many.

 

PNP junior Cabinet good but national organisation needed

(Mark Golding)

So, People’s National Party President Mark Golding has decided to unveil a junior shadow cabinet. Very good! One cannot doubt the concept and the objective, though, like in the Cabinet that partially governs this land, some names do not belong there.

And you could say that the PNP is preparing its younger crew for the possibility of assuming political office, but it seems to me that the PNP’s priority should be placed on getting caretakers or candidates for all 63 constituencies up for grabs in general elections, or the 228 in municipal elections.

The last general election was in September 2020, and maybe the party believes that it has enough time to wait before it begins to put people in place for what is to come. That would be the wrong approach. The party should, by now over eight months since the last election have pencilled in candidates for all constituencies, even if they are given holding roles.

It would be interesting to see how many are there as sanctioned officials of the party in the constituencies, but I would hazard a guess that at least 40 per cent of the constituencies are unrepresented by PNP faces, meaning that if anything happens and someone from the party is required to speak, the expected voice would be muted.

For the party to be relevant, it needs to move now to get bodies in place, not to give away money to those who do not deserve it … those who over the years have been broken badly by political parties; and make promises to others, but to establish more working groups, get to understand the geography of the area and plan campaign strategies.

It makes no sense waiting until two months before an election to unveil a candidate. Nowadays, there are no safe seats. As the Jamaica Labour Party determined during the last election in seats like the three in Westmoreland, which were, for long, considered PNP territory; Kingston Central, Hanover Western, St Elizabeth North Eastern; and St Ann South Eastern which, though not won by the JLP, went down to the wire in a shocking way, as this was seen as the safest PNP seat in the land, no one is safe these days. Apart from vote-buying by both major political parties, there has also been a paradigm shift in political philosophy, mainly among the younger voters.

Therefore, the PNP must start doing what is necessary within weeks, if it is to be taken seriously.

 

Diplomats upset over George Wright matter

(George Wright)

Jamaica had better watch out. Some influential members of the diplomatic community here are not happy with the manner in which the Government has treated allegations against vacationing Member of Parliament George Wright.

The diplomats will not come out and protest in front of their locations, but they have taken note of how the Government has sheltered the man who represents the people of Westmoreland Central in Parliament, and the moves made to lift him from the hole that he has fallen into, instead of taking a firm position against the elected official, and sending a message that such conduct that he has been accused of and has not denied, will not be embraced.

The more the Government MPs delay the matter and hope that it can be swept under the carpet with ease, is the more that the ruling political administration messes itself up on this matter.

What will happen when Wright decides to return to the House of Representatives after his vacation? Does he believe that the people of Jamaica will forget the actions he has been accused of, whether he confirms them or not? Can he successfully mount a campaign in future, and appeal to more women to support him with their votes?

Well, let’s see. Just like how the diplomats have been doing their jottings, the people of this land are doing the same.

 

Chinese should do MoBay road project

(China Harbour)

A fuss has started in the House of Representatives and elsewhere about how the Montego Bay Perimeter Project ought to be administered. But based upon what has transpired in the construction industry in recent years, only one company should be allowed to take on such a project – China Harbour Engineering Company – CHEC for short.

The suggestion by the Opposition is surprising, for its members need only to look around the Jamaican landscape to see that CHEC is head and shoulders above all others when it comes to delivering general construction projects in reasonable time, and without consistent overruns.

It is always good to encourage local contractors, but they do not give you much to jump and shout about, and as such, we should drop this ‘because they are Jamaican’ nonsense and do what’s best for the country.

Let’s take a look at some of the major construction projects undertaken in recent time by local contractors and then determine if they have not let down the Jamaican people. It is easy to highlight that along Constant Spring Road, or Washington Boulevard, but let’s visit St Mary and view the work on the Broadgate to Chovey Road (Georgia) improvement project. Utter disaster! That project started in 2016 and still cannot be finished. As far as I remember, the initial budget was around $670 million; now the cost has gone three times over that, and it is still a mess. One Government official even told me recently that it may never be finished.

The Government is right on the MoBay initiative. CHEC it should be. It’s painful when you have to go through Montego Bay traffic, and it’s an even greater heartache traversing the Long Hill Road. From the look of things, no local company can do what is required.

More Chinese food will nourish the body.

Jamaica Observer