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Goat Islands transhipment hub( what is the Government hiding ?) Options
Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 2:19:13 PM

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‘There are many other areas that could house a port’

Thursday, October 03, 2013 | 9:43 AM

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MONTEGO BAY, St James -- The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change on Wednesday sought to play down concerns that Goat Islands in the protected Portland Bight could become home to a transhipment hub.

Addressing members of the media after the opening of the GLOC-2 conference being held in Montego Bay, junior minister Ian Hayles said no such decision has been made adding that “all options are on the table”.


What those options were, he did not make clear.

When pressed, Hayles said that there were “many areas across the island” that could house such a port, but didn’t name any.

“There has been a lot of talk out there, but as a government, we have not got any formal request. It’s been all just speculating and the level of speculation has caused us somewhat to be looking at all options. All options remain on the table,” he said.

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the government body responsible for spatial planning and environment projects, which was represented at the GLOC-2 conference, also tried to avoid the subject.

GLOC-2, an international conference on Land /Ocean connections continues at the Hilton Rose Hall in Montego Bay until Friday.

--Kimone Thomas

Read more: jamaicaobserver.com/news/No-decision-made-on-Goat-Islands-transhipment-hub


NEPA received no application for Goat Islands development

Thursday, October 03, 2013 | 10:27 AM

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MONTEGO BAY Jamaica – Head of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the government body responsible for environmental regulation says that the agency has not received an application for any commercial development on Goat Islands in the protected Portland Bight.

Speaking to the media at the second Global Conference on Land - Ocean Connections (GLOC-2) in Montego Bay on Wednesday, NEPA head Peter Knight described as speculation reports that the Chinese are planning to establish a transhipment port in the Portland Bight Area of St Catherine and Clarendon.

Read more: jamaicaobserver.com/news/NEPA-received-no-application-for-Goat-Islands-development#ixzz2ggWZDm6x
We have not seen at NEPA neither an application nor inquiry [from the Chinese for a port on Goat Island],” Knight said in response to questions from the Jamaica Observer.

He said that if the agency were to receive such an application, rubber stamping it would depend largely on environmental impact assessments (EIAs) which the agency would commission.

“The agency would have to determine whether there is need for an EIA and at end of process we make a decision, so it’s a very involved process,” said Knight.

Asked if the National Resources Conservation Act, under which the Portland Bight Protected Area was so declared would preclude the area from a large scale port project, Knight declined to comment.

“I reserve comments on a matter that has to do with speculation. I think it would be inappropriate to make comments on a matter that is not before us,” he said.Recent reports that the Chinese will be using the Goat Islands for a transhipment port has spawned intense controversy but government officials have repeatedly insisted that no final decision has been made on a location for the project.

The GLOC-2 conference continues at the Hilton Rose Hall in Montego Bay until Friday.

Patrick Foster

Read more: jamaicaobserver.com/news

Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013 2:02:45 AM

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Report on environmental and feasibility study on Goat Islands ready

7:04 am, Wed October 9, 2013

A crucial report containing the findings of an environmental and feasibility study on the proposed Goat Islands project is now in the hands of the Port Authority of Jamaica. The results of the study will help the Government determine the course of action in relation to the controversial proposal for the development of the area as part of the Global Logistics Hub. The study, which was conducted by the firm Conrad Douglas and Associates, will also assist the government with consultations on the project.

Dr. Omar Davies, Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, who confirmed that the Goat Islands report was submitted, explained what will take place next.

“The Port Authority has received it. Both the Port Authority and the Ministry will examine it in terms of the main issues identified and the parameters which would be set for the execution of the environmental impact assessment."

The Government has stated that it will adhere to all regulatory requirements, while seeking prompt decisions regarding the project. It has said it is giving serious consideration to a proposal from Chinese investors to construct a US$1.5 billion trans-shipment port on the protected islands.

Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2013 7:30:50 AM

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DBJ names prequalified bidders for KCT
(China Merchant Holdings International)

Published: Sunday | October 13, 2013 0 Comments

McPherse Thompson, Assistant Editor - Business

French shipping group CMA CGM's port terminals subsidiary, Terminal Link, is among three entities prequalified by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) to take over the operation of the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT), which is up for divestment.

The others are Dubai-based DP World, and PSA International, formerly Port of Singapore Authority, one of the world's largest port operators.

"We are now conducting due diligence so we can go back to the Government with the exact strategy that we are going to use and we hope to have a preferred bidder by April, May (or) June next year," general manager of privatisation services at the DBJ, Denise Arana, told a Gleaner Editors' Forum.

KCT, Jamaica's main seaport, is to be privatised by way of concession, but the structure is still being formulated, the DBJ said in July.

However, the bank said that as far as possible, the concession will give the preferred bidder the right to purchase KCT's equipment as part of the package.

KCT is one of the region's leading container transhipment ports with a capacity of 2.8 million 20-foot equivalent units or TEUs.

Its equipment includes 19 ship-to-shore Gantry cranes, with four super Post-Panamax cranes among them; 30 stevedoring chassis; 28 yard tractors; 30 yard trailers; two 4,000 horse-power tugboats, 73 straddle carriers, 24 trailer trains, four train tractors and nine forklifts.

Further development of the KCT is expected to facilitate the passage of Post-Panamax container vessels with a nominal capacity of 12,000 TEUs in comparison to the existing Panamax vessels with a capacity of 4,500 TEUs currently transiting the Panama Canal.


CMA CGM already has a presence at KCT, having signedan agreement with the Jamaican Government in August 2011, which will see the company investing US$100 million to improve infrastructure and equipment, as well as employ 1,000 persons in exchange for a 35-year lease to set up a major hub there.

At the signing, then Minister of Transport and Works Mike Henry said the agreement represented a significant step forward in the Government's programme for the privatisation of the KCT.

However, the Port Authority said the CMA CGM agreement was separate from the planned divestment of the port.

Earlier this year, China Merchant Holdings International, China's largest state-run ports operator, acquired a 49 per cent equity stake in Terminal Link for euro400 million. The transaction was completed on June 11, according to Port Finance International, an online platform for industry experts and players to review and discuss the market.

With a fleet of more than 400 vessels, Marseilles-based CMA CGM is the world's third largest container shipping company. Its subsidiary Terminal Link owns 15 container terminals in eight countries.

DP World is majority owned by Dubai World, is an investment vehicle used by the Dubai government to manage and supervise a portfolio of businesses and projects across a range of industry segments and projects that promote the country as a hub for commerce and trading.

DP World operates more than 60 terminals across six continents, with container handling generating around 80 per cent of its revenue, Port Finance International reported.

The PSA Group handled 60.1 million 20-foot equivalent units globally last year, Group Chair-man Fock Siew Wah said in the company's 2012 annual report.

Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 5:37:22 PM

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Parliament to update on Goat Islands, Omnibus Tax Bill today

By Balford Henry, Senior Staff Reporter

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 | 1:21 PM

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KINGSTON, Jamaica --Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Peter Phillips, is to make a statement to the House of Representatives this afternoon on fiscal incentives legislation.

Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr Omar Davies, is also expected to make a statement on the report on the findings of an environmental and feasibility study on the China-financed logistics hub proposed for Goat Islands.

Dr Phillips is expected to either table the Omnibus Tax Incentive legislation, a structural benchmark of the four-year Extended Fund Facility agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) signed on May 1, or update the House on the Bill which September 30-deadline was missed last month.

Phillips told the House on September 24 that following discussions with the IMF on the issue, the government had committed to table the Bill by Thursday, October 31.

He said that following the first performance quarterly review in August, concerns were raised by local stakeholders and international partners about what was being proposed by the tax incentives working group.

The Omnibus Tax Incentive Bill, a key element in fulfilling the IMF agreement, aims to establish a transparent and coherent regime to govern all tax incentives.

Meanwhile it is likely that Davies will table a copy of the environmental report, which was discussed at Cabinet Monday. The results of the study should help the government determine how to respond to the controversial proposal, which has been criticised by environmentalists as a threat to the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA) created by the government in 1999, to protect a large marine and terrestrial area southeast of Kingston.

The government has stated that it will adhere to regulatory requirements, while seeking prompt decisions regarding the project which is based on a proposal from China to construct a US$1.5 billion trans-shipment port on the protected islands.

The House will also – conclude debate on the Charities Bill which was started last week by Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton; and start debate on the Defamation Bill, which is expected to be piloted by Attorney General Patrick Atkinson.

Read more: jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Parliament-to-update-on-Goat-Island--Omnibus-Tax-Bill-today#ixzz2j9LjoTTE

Port Authority refuses to release MOU on logistics hub, says JET

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 | 1:02 PM

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KINGSTON, Jamaica -- The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) Tuesday said that the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) has refused to divulge information on the proposed construction of a logistics hub at Goat Islands despite requests through the Access to Information Act (ATI).

JET has called the PAJ’s action a “disregard for the rights of the Jamaican people to be informed about the decision-making process in relation to the proposed logistics hub and port”.


According to JET after using the ATI to request information from several government agencies on the development of a logistics hub and/or a trans-shipment port for Jamaica “at least one of these agencies have refused to provide this information”.

“The actions of the Port Authority have cemented our view that there is in fact no transparency in the decision-making process regarding the proposal to put this port in a protected area and that the government has little interest in engaging with stakeholders. In keeping with the requirements of the Access to Information Act, we intend to request an internal review of the Port Authority’s refusal to provide this information and if that is unsuccessful, we will appeal this refusal to the ATI Appeals Tribunal,” said Danielle Andrade, legal director of JET.

JET in a release Tuesday said that the information requested was broadly defined and included:

1. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Addendum between the Port Authority of Jamaica and the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC);

2. The Environment Management Scoping Study for Goat Islands/Portland Bight Protected Area and its Terms of Reference; and

3. Proposals submitted by CHEC or other Chinese interests for the hub or port.

In a letter dated October 23rd, 2013, the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) refused to provide JET with these documents, with the exception of the Terms of Reference for the Environment Management Scoping Study, JET said.

The PAJ’s letter states that the MOU and proposals relating to the development of the port are exempt under the Access to Information Act for the reason that disclosure would constitute an actionable breach of confidence, that premature disclosure would or could have a substantial effect on the Jamaican economy and that the documents contain information concerning the commercial interests of an organisation and disclosure of that information would prejudice those interests, the JET release added.

JET said that the Port Authority also failed to provide access to the Environment Management Scoping Study and did not give any reasons for this.

"The refusal is also contrary to pronouncements made by the Minister of Transport, Works and Housing in his statement to Parliament on this issue on September 10th, 2013 that the government is committed to “fostering the environment where stakeholders can be a part of the decision-making process,” the release said.

Other agencies from which JET requested information include the Ministry of Transport and Works, which JET said has asked for an extension of 30 days to respond; the Office of the Prime Minister, which transferred JET's request to the Ministry of Transport and Works; the Ministry of Land Water Environment, which said they have no such documents; the Urban Development Corporation, which has not responded at all; and the Ministry of Industry Investment and Commerce, which JET said sent a general brochure on the logistics hub.

Read more: jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Port-Authority-refuses-to-release-MOU-on-logistics-hub--says-JET#ixzz2j9NO0dFQ

Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 8:13:50 AM

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No good for hub: Lobbyists' alternatives to Goat Islands not viable - studie
Published: Wednesday | October 30, 2013 2 Comments

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

After conducting technical studies in sections of the island, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) rejected sites that would subsequently be suggested by concerned interests as alternatives to the Goat Islands for the establishment of logistics facilities.

Speaking in the House of Representatives yesterday, Transport, Works and Housing Minister Dr Omar Davies said the Chinese company did a "tremendous amount of technical work", which included analysing tidal movement and depth of the sea, and ruled out Jackson Bay and Port Esquivel as possible sites for the project.

In recent weeks, these two sites have been named by environmental lobbyists as locations to which the Government should direct CHEC after the company decided that Fort Augusta was too small for the scale project it planned to undertake.

But with its studies completed at least a year before the intervention of environmental interests, CHEC had instead proposed to build port facilities at the Goat Islands, located in the Portland Bight Protected Area, and to connect them to a logistics yard in Old Harbour, St Catherine, by causeway.

However, the environmental lobby has opposed the project, saying it would destroy marine and other life forms in the Portland Bight area.

In the face of the opposition, Davies commissioned a scoping study, which he yesterday told Parliament found that the three fish sanctuaries in the area have been depleted as a result of dynamiting and overfishing.

"The only sanctuary likely to be impacted by the proposed project is the Galleon Bay, which is experiencing naturally degraded performance," Davies said.


The minister told the House that there are several environmental strategies that can be undertaken to counter the effects of the environmental impact of the CHEC project. The strategies, Davies said, include the replanting and relocation of disturbed areas of mangrove and seagrass as well as the creation of alternative fish sanctuaries.

Davies told Parliament that the Portland Bight Protected Area was currently home to several industrial operations, including the Old Harbour Power Station, Jamalco, Rock Point Port, and Doctor Bird Power barges.

The minister said CHEC and the Port Authority of Jamaica would continue to have discussions to refine aspects of the project with a view to having a framework agreement finalised by the end of January 2014.

If the project is approved by Cabinet, it will then be submitted to the National Environment and Planning Agency, which will outline terms of reference for an environmental impact assessment.

In the meantime, Karl Samuda, the opposition spokesman on works, said Jamaica was moving too slowly with the project, adding that the Chinese could move to Central America.

"It is time for the Government to take a decision," Samuda said.

He stressed that Jamaica has "an extremely important location", but it appears the Government is dawdling.

"We must act and act quickly to take advantage of our position," Samuda said.

He reminded Parliament that the main shipping channels are 22 miles from Jamaica and cautioned that Nicaragua could beat Jamaica to the punch as that country was in the process of finalising arrangements for a US$40-billion canal to expand the Pacific port facilities.

With its geostrategic location, Jamaica is seeking to take advantage of the expansion of the Panama Canal, which is due to be completed in 2015, and is one of the reasons CHEC is proposing to spend US$1.5 billion on the project.

Posted: Sunday, November 3, 2013 11:37:27 AM

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Goat Islands going... going...

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 03, 2013

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IT'S almost a certainty that by this time next year the Goat Islands will be virtually in the hands of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), and well on the way to becoming the first Chinese-owned transshipment port and logistics hub in the region.

That conclusion became clear after the statement to the House of Representatives last Tuesday by minister of transport, works and housing, Dr Omar Davies, as well as the opinions expressed by the newly appointed chief executive officer and president of the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), Professor Gordon Shirley, at a press briefing at his new office last Wednesday afternoon.

Although Davies insists that the final decision will be taken by the Cabinet, his statement to the House seemed to confirm that, in the meantime, he plans to do all that is necessary to ensure that the project meets with the approval of his Cabinet colleagues, when a framework agreement reaches them by January.

Quoting from the environmental management scoping study of the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA), which was commissioned by the PAJ, Davies said: "The PBPA is not exclusively an environmental conservatory and is intended to facilitate multiple activities in a sustainable manner."

He noted that the area, although hosting important natural heritage resources, also has a number of major industrial, commercial, residential and agricultural activities, including a Jamaica Public Service power station and an ethanol plant, while its fish sanctuaries are already so degraded from dynamiting and overfishing that fishermen have been forced to turn to the Pedro Cays.

Shirley, who took over as the head of the PAJ last Friday, called in the press to give his views on the project which were also informed by the Conrad Douglas environmental management scoping study the minister had relied on.

"What we know is that this is a large project, about US$1.5 billion. We think that the jobs that would be created, if we were to have an investment like this, would have a substantive impact on our economic development prospects," he said.

"It is the only investment of this type that I am aware of and, yes, I think we need to pursue the opportunity to see whether this is so," he said in response to a question.

Shirley also said that the offer for the Goat Islands project came from China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC), a world-renowned international contractor that is a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) and which has been performing as the main contractor for Chinese infrastructural investments in Jamaica since 2009.

CHEC officially opened its Jamaican offices on April 22, 2010 after signing an agreement with the Government in 2009 to be the general contractor under the Ministry of Transportation and Works and the National Works Agency for two main projects -- the Palisadoes Shoreline Protection and Rehabilitation Works and the all-island Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP).

The company was also in charge of the construction of the Rio Grande bridge in St Margaret's Bay, Portland, and the Westmoreland bridge in Georgia, St Mary, and is currently constructing the North-South Link of Highway 2000.

The company has had a somewhat shaky relationship with local trade unions since 2010, primarily because of positions it has taken on benefits normally paid to local construction workers under a Joint Industrial Council (JIC) arrangement.

One such benefit is the 16 per cent end-of-project bonus paid by local construction firms at the end of each project, which was also paid to the workers employed by French contractor Bouygues.

The two main trade unions -- the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union and the National Workers' Union -- have constantly raised concerns about the way CHEC operates, including the fact that the unions have not been able to organise labour on any of its other sites in Jamaica over the past three years, despite a JIC arrangement which normally gives them automatic access to share union dues 50/50.

CHEC has also earned the wrath of some members of parliament for its constant refusal to appear at Gordon House to entertain questions from Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), on the issue of some $700 million being claimed, up to recently, by local contractors for work done on the JDIP for which they have not been paid.

The PAAC has, without success, made two attempts to get CHEC's representatives to attend one of its meetings to explain the delayed payments.

On the last attempt, at the beginning of October, Dr Davies personally wrote to the PAAC chairman, Edmund Bartlett, suggesting that summoning CHEC would "set a bad precedent".

"Whilst I appreciate the desire of members of the PAAC to have full responses to the claims by contractors, I would suggest that the summoning of CHEC to appear before the committee would set a bad precedent," Dr Davies wrote.

"Notwithstanding, in recognition of the need for answers to questions being posed by members of the PAAC, I undertake, as minister, to meet with all parties in order to be able to provide you and the other members of the PAAC with full and complete responses to your questions," Davies wrote.

The letter was received on October 2. However, one month later there has been no resolution to the issue.

But it was a bit strange that Davies expressed a willingness to meet with the contractors to avoid CHEC having to appear before the committee, after ignoring a letter sent to him some six weeks earlier by 13 of the local contractors affected by the delayed payments, seeking a meeting with him within 14 days to try and resolve the issue.

The North-South link of Highway 2000, which is currently in progress, is understood to be the first investment by CHEC in any local projects, as the JDIP projects were all financed by the China Ex-Im Bank out of the US$400-milliom JDIP loan.

CHEC has invested US$610 million to complete the North-South Highway. In addition, the company has also agreed to reimburse the Government the US$120-million it had spent on the Mount Rosser bypass road. This came as a huge surprise to PAAC members when they first heard of it late last year.

Both former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, and his Minister of Transport and Works Mike Henry confirmed that CHEC has always been interested in constructing a transshipment facility on the Goat Islands, to benefit from Jamaica's proximity to the newly expanded Panama Canal, scheduled to reopen in 2015.

But Golding and Henry had insisted that the project would have to be constructed on the Jamaican mainland.

"Unlike its competitors in the region, including Miami, Jamaica can provide the most cost-effective and timely movement of cargo utilising a sea/air movement," Henry insisted. But those negotiations with the Chinese stalled when the JLP Government refused to agree to the Goat Islands as the site of the project, insisting instead that the Chinese investors work with the Fort Augusta area of St Catherine.

Golding told a lecture series audience in New York on October 22, he still held fears that the investors may be thinking about a "Chinese enclave", to which Jamaica would have limited access. That argument was also raised by Henry in recent discussions in Parliament.

Last Wednesday, Professor Shirley, who has been intimately involved with negotiations between the PAJ and CHEC for some time, confirmed that the Chinese firm has been rigid in its demand for the Goat Islands and has turned down three other sites offered to them.

Shirley related CHEC's refusal to accept the original offer of the Fort Augusta lands in St Catherine, insisting that it needed more space for both a transshipment port and a logistic hub.

He said that CHEC instead surveyed the south coast of St Catherine and Clarendon, which it felt was more suitable.

"They decided that they wanted to build a facility at Goat Island and have access to land on the mainland, which would be connected by some form of a bridge, and would also be connected to the North-South Highway link and the South Coast highway," he explained.

He said that the PAJ also offered two more alternative areas for the project, including one close to Port Esquivel, St Catherine, and one at Rocky Point in Clarendon, but those were also rejected by CHEC on the basis that:

(i) the land area was too small; and

(ii) the port facilities would be exposed to winds that could make it difficult for vessels to access the port.

"You can't have a transshipment port that could be subjected to that kind of uncertainty. There were some things that could be done,

but that would be extraordinarily expensive," Shirley volunteered.

However, he said that recognising the environmental significance of the Portland Bight Protected Area, including the Goat Islands, the PAJ decided on an addendum to their MOU with CHEC, which led to Conrad Douglas and Associates being commissioned to do the environmental management scoping study.

"It was simply to find all the information that we could on the Portland Bight Area, the environmental conditions, the state of it, and so on," Shirley stated.

He noted that the study showed that: there were nine islands and nine cays in the area; there are 68 international and national policies and legislation, regulations and standards that may be applicable to the establishment of the project conceived by CHEC in the Portland Bight Area.

On this basis the report noted the importance of developing a plan for financing the efficient and effective management of the natural resources of the area.

In terms of the history of the area, it was confirmed that the Tainos, the original Arawak Indians living in Jamaica on the arrival of Christopher Columbus, lived in villages near to the Goat Islands.

Columbus is said to have named the area "Cow Bay" in honour of the manatees he found there. Henry Morgan, the famous Port Royal pirate, maintained his vessels at Careening Bay, in the area.

The PBPA also hosts important national heritage resources, and key biological resources including rare, threatened and endangered species of animals and plants, including tree frogs, thunder snakes, dwarf snakes, blue tailed galliwasps and the Jamaican fig-eating bats.

Invertebrates are represented by five species of blind cave-dwelling shrimp, and the Hellshire Hills are still considered the home of the Jamaican iguana. There are also signs that the Jamaican coney, once considered extinct, still inhabits the area.

Over 271 plant species have been identified in the Hellshire Hills, including 53 which are endemic to Jamaica, and 15 endemic to the PBPA.

Read more: jamaicaobserver.com/news/Goat-Islands-going----going
Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 8:45:25 AM

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No objective analysis of Goat Islands use yet possible

Published: Wednesday | November 27, 2013 0 Comments

Dr. Conrad Douglas, who undertook an environmental scoping study of the Goat Islands recently, said no one could make a critical objective analysis of its use for a logistics hub because there was currently no description of the proposed project.

The scoping study was "very early in the process," Douglas told participants at the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica Chairman's Club Forum at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston yesterday.

The discussion centred around the viability of using the Goat Islands in the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA) as a potential Chinese-operated logistics hub.

The idea of building a US$1.5 billion logistics hub in the protected area has not been well received by Jamaican environmentalists.

But Douglas, executive chairman of Conrad Douglas and Associates, said the PBPA "does not fit any of the categories of protected areas as classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

He said 67,000 people live in "abject poverty" in the area, which has heavy industrial activity as well as activities such as bee farming and charcoal burning.

But according to Diana McCaulay, CEO if the Jamaica Environment Trust, the scoping study "is not accurate enough to guide the Cabinet" (decision). She said no decision could be made on the project without knowing the plan proposed by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).

"Jamaica's economy is in a sorry state. For 40 years we have experienced anaemic growth," he said.

But with the proposed hub, "Jamaica now stands on the threshold" of a period of "substantial economic growth, development and prosperity," he said.

The development of the hub had "great potential for a 'win-win'," he said. "It can be done. It has been done elsewhere in the world."

Bobby Stephens, development consultant and chairman of Jamaica Protected Area Trust said he was a "bit disturbed" with the approach of the scoping study as it seemed to suggest that because the island is in dire straits it should "turn a blind eye" to the environmental aspect. "It would be nice if government was looking to possible alternatives," he said.

But Douglas said possible alternatives were Fort Augusta in St. Catherine, which was "found (to be) too small;" Jackson Bay in Clarendon was "extremely windy" and Cow Bay, St. Thomas had also been considered. "Choices and alternatives will be an aspect of the EIA," he said.

Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014 12:36:01 PM

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JET appeals ATI decision on Goat Islands

Published: Thursday | January 9, 2014 0 Comments

Petre Williams-Raynor, Contributing Editor

The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) is moving to get its hands on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) for the proposed development at Goat Islands.

The environmental group filed an appeal with the Access to Information (ATI) Appeal Tribunal on January 3, having been denied the MOU and addendum by the Port Authority last year.

In a November 5, 2013 letter to JET, the authority said the documents were exempt from the ATI Act on grounds that:
disclosure would consti-tute an actionable breach of confidence;premature disclosure would or could reasonably be expected to have a substantial effect on the Jamaican economy; and the documents contain information concerning the commercial interests of an organisation and disclosure of that information would prejudice those interests.

"Jamaica's economy would be affected by the disclosure if such disclosure breaches the obligations of CHEC and causes them to withdraw from the project," the authority said in the letter.

The 2013 Environmental Management Scoping of the Portland Bight Protected Area, inclusive of the Goat Islands report, revealed that the development - the construction of a trans-shipment port - is valued at US$1.5 billion.

"The commercial interest of the investors as well as the Port Authority and, by extension, the Government of Jamaica, would be prejudiced by disclosure of the documents," the authority said.

"For example, China Harbour Engineering Company is also negotiating with other third-party investors, and they also have confidentiality obligations with their investors which may be breached by a disclosure of the documents. The PAJ, therefore, cannot appear to be negotiating with CHEC in the public sphere," it added.

JET had also requested proposals submitted to the authority on the development. Those, too, were denied on similar grounds.

But JET is not satisfied with the explanation. Chief Executive Officer Diana McCaulay said the public is entitled to the information in the documents, certainly given the controversy surrounding the development.

News of the development prompted widespread scorn from environmental interests who insist the development should not be done at the Goat Islands, which form a part of the Portland Bight Protected Area - home to several fish sanctuaries and the endangered species, including the Jamaican iguana.

Without all the pertinent information, the JET boss said, Government and civil society cannot arrive at a common ground on the development.

"In the absence of information, such as what are the benefits to Jamaica and Jamaicans, the precise location of the port, the environmental resources that we stand to lose, etc, it is impossible to decide whether this is a positive project for Jamaica. No one can decide that in the absence of the information," McCaulay told The Gleaner.

It could take months to get a hearing with the tribunal. However, JET's legal director Danielle Andrade is hopeful for an early date.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 11:52:07 AM

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10,000 jobs from Goat Islands port

BY KIMONE THOMPSON Associate editor — features thompsonk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 15 Comments
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Little Goat Island.

AFTER months of speculation played out in the media and the public domain, the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) yesterday confirmed that Goat Islands will indeed be the site of a Chinese seaport. The port, which will form a part of the much-touted logistics hub, will provide 10,000 permanent jobs, Professor Gordon Shirley told the Jamaica Observer yesterday. “It will be the Great Goat Island and Little Goat Island and some lands to the north of there,” said Shirley, chairman and CEO of the port management agency.

The area to be developed will total 600 acres, he said. Shirley spoke briefly with the Observer after making a presentation on the physical infrastructure of the planned hub on the opening day of the Jamaica Logistics Hub Symposium at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston. He promised to give more detailed information on the subject today, to include the scope of the project, the timelines set for the start and completion of construction works and the possible environmental impact.

Goat Islands are situated in the Portland Bight Protected Area, an expanse of 1,876 km from Hellshire in St Catherine to Rocky Point in Clarendon. The Government declared it a protected area under The Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act, the Fishing Industry Act and the Wildlife Protection Act, in 1999.

Portland Bight, which is the subject of two international conventions — The Ramsar Convention and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity — boasts a largely undisturbed dry limestone forest which scientists say is one of the few remaining in the region. It also features coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass, and is home to several endemic species, including the Jamaican iguana, which was brought back from the brink of extinction under a programme managed by the University of the West Indies, Hope Zoo in Kingston and a host of others in the US.

Confirmation of the planned transshipment port will no doubt be a blow to that programme, which had hopes of repatriating the critically endangered reptile on Goat Islands. It is also expected to be a blow to the work of conservationists who have argued since the project was first hinted at last August that a large-scale port development will decimate the already fragile ecosystem of Portland Bight.

The Goat Islands port is to be developed by China Harbour Engineering Company, the same investors who are behind the Palisadoes Shoreline Protection Project and the North/South link of Highway 2000, at a cost of $1.5 billion. The PAJ, in a document on its website, said locations other than Goat Islands were considered for the port, “however, it was determined that the suitability of those locations was limited based on the scope of the project, as well as other strategic considerations such as proximity to the North/South Highway”.

In addition to the new port facility, other infrastructure development will include an expansion of the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT) by 80 hectares, the deepening of the channel between Port Royal and the KCT as well as the basin of the Kingston Harbour to a depth of 15 metres in order to accommodate larger ships.

As far as supporting road networks go, the North/South highway is expected to be completed by January 2016, which, according to Shirley, will make the journey between Kingston and Ocho Rios about 50 minutes. The plans also include privatising KCT and the Norman Manley International Airport.
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