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MONTEGO BAY, St James; Monday, September 7, 2015: The linkage between tourism and agriculture will begin to benefit a number of historic rural communities in southern St. James soon, with the Tourism Enhancement Fund financing the rehabilitation of a roadway in the area, to the tune of just under $84 million.
A contract for the road works was signed at the Mocho Community Centre recently and the document presented to the contracting firm, S&G Road Surfacing Materials, represented by Director Bobby Smith, by Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill.
Work is to get underway in two weeks and be completed satisfactorily in four months. The scope of work includes repairing breakaways, replacing walls and drains and giving the 7.4 kilometre roadway from Mocho to Arcadia double surface dressing. The road traverses four communities.
Explaining how the funding of the project by TEF came about, Dr. McNeill outlined a number of ways in which tourism impacted the community.
“It affects us in a lot of ways; it affects us depending on our linkages and the extent to which the vegetables and foods which you grow up here are consumed in the hotel sector; it affects us because many of us have relatives who work in the hotels or worked on the hotels when they were being developed, or because we are in a community near Accompong where visitors are passing back and forth and to the extent that they can stop and enjoy the environs… it’s a good thing,” he pointed out.
The Minister said, “we have an important role to play here because you can’t ask visitors to come into the community and partake of the economy here if they can’t reach here by road.” He told residents that the TEF was the agency which was giving the National Works Agency the money to repair their road, so whenever they see a TEF sign saying “Your tourism dollar working for you” they should understand what that meant.
Dr. McNeill said he fully understood the importance of having good roads in rural communities, adding, that “especially for you in this community because you have a major attraction up here, the extent to which we can get visitors to come here, the better the road, the more visitors you’re going to see.”
Member of Parliament for South St James and Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Derrick Kellier welcomed TEF’s support.
He also emphasized the tourism linkage. “This road leads to Appleton which in itself is a tourist attraction. The road also leads to Accompong Town which is a major historic site in the area. It leads also to YS Falls via Maggoty and from the other end it leads to Flagstaff which is a big historic site. Also Kensington where there is a Sam Sharpe Monument and where the 1831 Rebellion started.”
He agreed that, “there is tremendous potential for tourist development in this area – the artifacts are here, the places are here and we need to open it up to the public. There are also areas such as trails that are named after Maroons like Tacky and Cudjoe in the Camoro Mountains and they lead back from Flagstaff to Accompong Town. It’s really a charm for people to go there and explore them.”
Minister Kellier added that, “it really is very important that this road project has come on stream and, of course, the residents are very happy and those who support the tourist industry with their farm products also have a better opportunity.”
Mayor of Montego Bay and Councillor for the Maroon Town Division, Glendon Harris also welcomed the support of the Ministry and the TEF.
Meanwhile, Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Richard Azan supported Mayor Harris in his call for the citizens to play their part in protecting the road from deterioration by keeping their gateways clean at all times and not waiting until Christmas or Independence periods to do so. He also suggested a return to the days when people would voluntarily clean drains in their communities.
Minister Azan expressed appreciation to the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and TEF for providing the funds for the project. “They have been helping us out at the National Works Agency to do a number of projects across the island and if it was not for the TEF the NWA couldn’t be driving and driving so well,” he said.