ST JAMES, Jamaica (JIS) — Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Dr Horace Chang, has announced plans to improve traffic management in the city of Montego Bay.
Speaking during a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister’s western offices in Montego Bay yesterday, Minister Chang said the measures include repairing electronic traffic signals, reconfiguring some roadways, and the upgrading of road surfaces.
He said that these measures will be complemented by increased enforcement by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Transport Authority.
Minister Chang said the aim is to have aspects of the plan implemented before the end of the financial year.
He noted that the traffic problem in Montego Bay is the result of improper planning, especially in the area of housing developments. He said with Montego Bay being the fastest-growing economic area in Jamaica, the issue needs to be addressed.
Minister Chang noted that the issue of implementing a proper traffic-management system for Montego Bay, including the construction of a bypass or perimeter road, has been on the table for many years.
“While we will pursue and implement a perimeter road that will take traffic north and south of Montego Bay… we have to keep the traffic moving, and the current situation is untenable,” Dr Chang said.
He noted that improvements in the traffic flow will not only improve the movement of residents but will play a key role in operations at the Montego Bay cruise-ship terminal, where the number of homeporting ships continues to grow at a rapid rate.
“Homeporting is becoming one of the critical areas for Montego Bay. In fact, it is the most attractive home port in the Caribbean, largely because on an ‘untrafficked’ day the time from the (Sangster) airport to the free port (cruise-ship port) is maybe less than 10 minutes.
“In the current situation, even with police escort, it takes more than half an hour. That situation is untenable and will destroy the business of homeporting. Up to last year, we did up to four ships per week. This year, we are looking to go to five or six, and projections could go to as high as nine or 10 per week,” Dr Chang said.