We will protest for a highway! ...residents upset that major road development scrapped


June 16, 2016
Dorette Abrahams: St Thomas is the only parish that is not connected to the highway network.
Aerial view of the North-South Highway

The backwardness of St Thomas is expected to remain for some time as a major highway project which was slated to pave the way to its development, has been shelved.

Finance Minister Audley Shaw said yesterday that the government intends to abandon plans for the construction of the Southern Coastal Highway.

The Portia Simpson Miller-Government last year announced, with much fanfare, that the highway would be built. The road was slated to stretch from Harbour View in St Andrew to Port Antonio in Portland. The first phase would have seen the new highway passing through the towns of Yallahs and White Horses, and stopping in Morant Bay.

Dorrett Abrahams, secretary of the St Thomas Parish Development Committee, said St Thomas resident have suffered long enough and are prepared to demonstrate in order to get their highway.

"We will have to do a Paul Bogle," said Abrahams in reference to the militant stance taken by the St Thomas native to register the plight of his people in 1865.

"We are not going to take it lightly. St Thomas is the only parish that seems to be as if it is not part of the island of Jamaica. We have had the highway linking everywhere so that development can happen, and the only parish that is not linked in is St Thomas," Abrahams said.

Abrahams said she is surprised by the development as only last week Everald Warmington, the junior works minister, met with the St Thomas Parish Development Committee and gave the assurance that the road would be built.

Shaw, however, said that the instead of the Southern Coastal Highway, the administration will be focusing on building a toll road in Montego Bay.

Shaw, it will not make economic sense to pursue the South Coast Highway plan which was unveiled under the previous administration.

"How could we justify spending US$500 million on a highway to St Thomas? It just does not make economic sense," Shaw said.

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