The Night of the Iguana: Goat Islands Logistics

A brief look at the University of the West Indies forum on the proposed logistics hub at Goat Islands

I didn’t actually make it to UWI’s one day colloquium on the proposed Goat Islands logistics hub today but tried to keep track through those who were live tweeting it. Below is a selection of tweets from the event, unfortunately all the tweeters seem to be critics of the project. I’m no environmentalist myself but am sympathetic to arguments on behalf of preserving its integrity against rapacious ‘developers’. It’s unfortunate that such projects inevitably portray environmental activists as ‘anti-development’ or ‘anti-economic growth’. In fact what we need to do is look at the last 10 projects that environmentalists protested about and see whether the claims of economic developments, ‘job-creation’ etc actually stand up to scrutiny now that those projects have steamrolled ahead. Can the cruise ship terminal at Falmouth be called a success? For whom? Have the big Spanish hotels been good for the economy? or are local tourist interests hurting and unable to keep up with the cheap rates they offer? Is anyone doing the cost-benefit analyses needed?

What i found amusing was Nature being invoked by the developmentalists when someone said ‘Nature abhors a vacuum’ in arguing the urgency of pursuing the hub. Hopefully Nature’s potential wrath will also be taken into consideration when turning the proposed Iguana sanctuary into a logistics hub, so that it is done with the least amount of damage to the surrounding areas. One can hope, can’t one?

PS: Nov 10. Top journo Dionne Jackson-Miller’s takeaways from the forum under discussion at which she actually chaired a panel, give a fuller picture of the day’s discussons. Check her post out.

Diana McCaulay @dmccaulay
Beautiful Sat morning – heading to all day UWI session on the logistics hub billed as economy vs environment? Sigh

Damien King @DamienWKing
At UWI forum on the logistics hub. Still don’t know if hub will be a facilitator for the broader economy or an enclave that will burden it.

@DamienWKing when we hear special economic zone it means enclave of no taxes that everyone else will have to pay taxes for #LogisticsHub

@DamienWKing : we nd to know why ja has bn worst performing economy over past 40 yrs so we can know if #LogisticsHub will solve the problems

Diana McCaulay @dmccaulay
100% all male panel at the head table for opening session. Does UWI not have a Gender Studies Dept??

Diana McCaulay @dmccaulay
Am musing on what Easton and Conrad Douglas talk about over dinner..

Diana McCaulay @dmccaulay
World can’t wait for opening of Jamaica’s logistics hub – nature abhors a vacuum. Folks have options – will make other plans

Jherane @Jherane_
Wow. After showing the massive harbours that will be built they show pretty pictures of the local beaches we have…

Jherane @Jherane_
There’s only one female panellists today. Out of 24 panellists, only one female. Wow.

Diana McCaulay @dmccaulay
Usual story: Since we’re running late, Q&A will be shortened

Jherane @Jherane_
“[Jamaica] has a stable political and social culture” –> hysterical laughter from the audience.

Diana McCaulay @dmccaulay
Logistics hub task force has 12 sub committees – none on the environment

Jherane @Jherane_
Caribbean Coastal Area Management (C-CAM) lists storm surges, tsunamis, flooding, sea level rise amongst the climate change risk.

Author: Annie Paul

writer, editor and avid tweeter anniepaulose@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “The Night of the Iguana: Goat Islands Logistics”

  1. Annie, I’m almost totally ignorant on all this but my question would concern transparency: Have we been told exactly what the inter-governmental agreement is re the Goat Islands? If not, why not? I would have thought it is important to know what the terms and conditions are for citizens to weigh the issues. It may well be that it will be economically beneficial for Jamaica but how could we possibly know? Are we expected to simply trust that it is a good, effective, albeit secret deal? Any lack of transparency might lead to the sense that ordinary, voting Jamaicans have no say or control over the terms and conditions of these agreements. It might also lessen any bargaining power Jamaica has, for example: in the event of it being necessary to disclose what the terms are (because of the weight of public opinion) I can easily see the contract being ‘reworked’ to improve the benefits to Jamaicans (and hence help with the PR campaign). After all, if it turns out in the long term that the Goat Island project is of no economic benefit to Jamaica at all then legitimate questions will arise as to who exactly it did benefit, who made the critical decisions, why they made the decisions etc….

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