Rocky Point cries for development
Despite official word that a highway through St Thomas would not be the most economically viable option currently, some residents in Rocky Point, a small fishing village in the parish, are adamant that they have much to offer if the highway came through.
Winston Lindsay, a senior citizen in Rocky Point, told THE STAR that St Thomas has some of the best beaches on the island.
He did not have to look far to prove his point. "The area has a lot of potential. Look pon the good beach down desso, natural white sand, no rock in deh. If we get the highway, whole heap a people woulda come in and investment woulda come," Lindsay said, in reference to the Rocky Point Beach, which he said was being largely underutilised.
Adding to Lindsay's sentiments was Noreen Richards, who once lived in Rocky Point, but migrated to the United States years ago. She told THE STAR that she was vacationing in the area and was reminiscing on years gone by when Rocky Point Beach was in its heyday. "I remember they used to have music over here every Sunday night. It was a big event over here you know, and people from all over used to come. It lasted from in the morning go right into the night time," Richards said.
She also shared her memories of culinary delight on the same beach. "Even when you wanted a decent roast fish, this is where you would come. People from all over used to come. When you look over those places, it was a huge crowd, with vehicles parked up," she recalled.
However, those days are long gone, and to Richards, it seems unlikely to return without the boost of the highway. "The people dem want jobs in St Thomas, and if we get the highway, I feel that more people will invest in St Thomas. We have the nicest beaches. You would have more tourists coming here," she said.
Vivienne Anderson, the operator of a grocery and cookshop on the beach, shared her vision of the spot being an ideal tourist destination. The smooth white sand, web of trees providing relaxing shade, and the picturesque view of the sea were among her selling points. "People come here sometimes, even from Kingston, for example when church groups have outings, or just a group of friends, they come here, but they say the area want improvement," Anderson said. "A highway would help uplift the area. Mi woulda like fi see development in the area. We just left a back."
Talk of a highway in the parish came from the Portia Simpson Miller administration in 2015, which announced that US$385 million (J$48 billion) would be spent to build the highway running from Harbour View to Port Antonio as part of the South Coast Highway project. However, just two weeks ago, Finance Minister Audley Shaw announced that the original highway plan, which Shaw said would now cost US$500 million (J$63 billion), "does not make economic sense" and would be reconsidered.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness then said US$385 million (J$48 billion) would be spent "for the improvement of road network in the southeastern and southwestern sections of Jamaica". This has been met with staunch resistance from residents of St Thomas.