Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill (second left, seated), and Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr Omar Davies (second right, seated), sign as witnesses to the contract for the 'Elegant Corridor' lighting project as director of Y.P. Seaton & Associates Calvert Mundle (left), and executive director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF),Clyde Harrison (right, seated), look on. The contract signing was held on Friday, July 18 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
Let there be light!
Tourism workers along Elegant Corridor to benefit from multimillion-dollar lighting project
Barrington Flemming, Hospitality Jamaica Writer
Tourism interests have welcomed the signing of a multimillion-dollar contract to install street lamps along the 27.1 kilometre Elegant Corridor in Montego Bay, a long overdue development.
The Elegant Corridor extends from the roundabout at the Sangster International Airport to the Iberostar Hotel and Suites at Rose Hall, St James.
A $248 million contract was inked between the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) (representing the Government) and YP Seaton and Associates at the Montego Bay Convention Centre last Friday to install the lights over an eight-month period.
Chairman of the Montego Bay Resort Board, Evatt Bloomfield, said the lights are necessary to give greater visibility at nights for those traversing this heavily trafficked area.
"The reality is that it has been long overdue. We have been working on this issue for the last five years, and it is really unfortunate that it took so long, but we are not complaining about a good thing finally developing.
I certainly want us to push to see that it is rolled out sequentially so we don't wait for the entire thing to be done, but we must get commitments so that as soon as areas are completed, the lights are turned on so we can feel the positive impact right away," Bloomfield said.
Omar Robinson, president of the Montego Bay chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, welcomed the move, describing it as "exciting; the whole aesthetics of the elegant corridor will be improved in addition to the safety it will offer."
He added: "It is timely in light of the recent death of a guest and staff along the corridor; we have lost a number of staff along that corridor".
Earl Patterson, senior director, project implementation at the National Works Agency, said that while the project had a duration of eight months, it was expected that lights would be switched on in stages as soon as they are completed, which means that some lights could be on for the December 15 start of the winter tourist season.
"I am sure that the contractor will support bringing on various phases at a time, like Christmas lights. Certainly, one would expect that come December 15, that some of the lights would have been turned on," he told Hospitality Jamaica.
Patterson indicated that while the Government was unable to secure any proposal for solar energy, the country expects to earn savings of up to 50 per cent on electricity bills from the LED bulbs which will be put in as opposed to the old sodium high-pressure vapour lamps, which were previously used.
In the meantime, minister of tourism and entertainment, Dr Wykeham McNeill, has underscored that many of the projects being undertaken by the TEF, whether the cultural centre or the lighting of the Elegant Corridor, were projects for Jamaicans.
"They benefit us first - and our visitors who come will also benefit from them."
He added: "It is important that we understand that tourism generates the funds, through the TEF, to undertake these projects which benefit us as Jamaicans."
Significant economic zone
According to McNeill, it was imperative that the project be implemented at this time as the corridor forms part of what is arguably Jamaica's largest development zone after the logistics hub.
"This strip is a significant economic zone based on the infrastructure that is here. Putting in this lighting project enhances the area, but what it also does is also twofold. First, it allows those in the area and the entire corridor to actually charge better rates, while Government can seek more investment in the area because it becomes more attractive."
His colleague minister, Dr Omar Davies, the man in charge of transport and works, indicated that the project was a necessity as it would improve safety of all travelling along the roadway.
"Over time, this stretch of road has become a safety concern for pedestrians and motorists alike due to speeding and the absence of street lights. This will serve to improve nighttime visibility."
Work should commence within 23 days.