Jamaica, Jamaica: For Sale, No Offer Too Low

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This week the Mount Rosser toll road bypass from Kingston to the North Coast opened to much fanfare.  So serious was it that, allegedly, a member of government who showed up to the road opening in a tropical country in August in polo shirt and jeans was asked by the Prime Minister of Jamaica to step aside out of the proverbial videolight.
Let that sink in. Members of the Government of Jamaica gathered to open a road.  In 2014. A road that, as far as I know, is part of the a project called Highway 2000.  How prescient of the foreign engineers who worked on this project to nickname it Highway 3000.
Let it also sink in that the Government of Jamaica has, in exchange for Chinese government investment (through CHEC) has allowed the Chinese government to select 1,200 acres of land. To repeat, the Government of Jamaica allowed a foreign government to select whatever land in Jamaica that it wanted.

Because, only patwa + Ninja Man will do right now…

I have some questions.
Where is Robert Pickersgill, the Minister of Government responsible for Water, Land, Environment & Climate Change?  Why has so much about the Government of Jamaica’s relationship with the Chinese government – much of which principally concerns land and environment – only coming from Omar Davis, the Minister responsible for Transport, Works and Housing?  Fine the Mount Rosser Bypass is a transportation thing, but where is Minister Pickersgill to answer questions about the land?  Also, where is Anthony Hylton, the Minister responsible for Industry, Investment and Commerce?  The Chinese government is, ostensibly, investing in Jamaica is it not?
What is the value of this 1,200 acres of land? Who valued this 1,200 acres of land, if at all the Government of Jamaica bothered to have a valuation done after the Chinese government selected what it wanted? Is that value less than, equal to, or greater than the cost of building the Mount Rosser bypass toll road together with the earnings from exclusive operation of the toll road for 50 years?  It appears that no limits were given on the choice of 1,200 acres of land, so dare I ask what parameters were set for use of this 1,200 acres of land? Has the Government of Jamaica asked for or received any information from the Chinese government about how the 1,200 acres of land will be used? Must the 1,200 acres of land be one plot or is the Chinese government allowed to choose plots of varying sizes that are in sum 1,200 acres?
Suppose the Chinese government selects 1,200 acres that is strategically significant to Jamaica? Was the. Jamaica Defense Force consulted?
Shit. What am I asking…but let me press on.
Suppose the 1,200 acres of land is already occupied? Will users of the land (farmers, homes, factories, etc.) or landowners — and, yes, given that there are no available explicitly stated limits on the Chinese government’s right to choose these 1,200 acres of land, I can only infer that currently legitimate land users and title holders will be affected — be relocated to appropriate sites of their choosing? And, if that happens, how will they be relocated?  What would be the timeframe (and other conditions) for relocation?  How will the legitimate land users and title holders be compensated?  Who will compensate them?  What are the legal remedies and causes of action available to this category of Jamaicans should they be evicted because their Government of Jamaica allowed the Chinese government to select whatever 1,200 acres of land it wanted?
Suppose the 1,200 acres of land provides access to or contains significant water resources (groundwater, rivers, watersheds, beaches, etc.)?  Jamaica is currently in the midst of a severe drought arguably caused less by lack of rainfall than by horrid water resource management.  Did the Government of Jamaica give any consideration to Jamaica’s precarious state as a small island state susceptible to and wholly unprepared for the worsening droughts to come when it allowed the Chinese government to select whatever 1,200 acres of land it wanted? If access to beaches are affected, what effect will this have on the rightful enjoyment of their country by Jamaicans, and, of course, on the whored out overly-depended-upon tourism sector?
Is the 1,200 acres of land arable land? How, if at all, would this choice of 1,200 acres of land by the Chinese government allowed by the Government of Jamaica be factored into assessing and planning for Jamaica’s worsening food security situation? Or is it too much to expect that this kind of assessment happened under an apparently inept, uninspired, and uninspiring Minister and Ministry of Agriculture? A Minister who seems too lax to encourage and facilitate modernization of the sector in a fashion that would enable Jamaica’s food security and basic self-sufficiency.  A Ministry that seemed caught unawares of the effect of drought on food quality, supply and prices.
Suppose the 1,200 acres chosen by the Chinese government is land suitable for relocation as climate change effects bear down on Jamaica?  Jesus what am I asking.  Those assessments probably haven’t been done yet but…you get the Idea, yes?


A word or two to the Jamaican Diaspora’s “leadership”: will you continue to sit down and jockey for photo opportunities and the chance to visit Jamaica for still unfortunately mostly meaningless conferences?  Will you continue to do this sitting and preening while continuing to scramble, in a generally disorganized and cliquish fashion, to fundraise to address niche (though no less pressing) Jamaicans’ needs?  Or will you actually begin to assess and embrace your leverage to pressure the Government of Jamaica to do right by Jamaicans? And in case you are wondering: allowing a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT TO CHOOSE THE LAND IT WANTED is not “doing right.”
I see now how some countries’ Diasporas become so hard line.  I see it very very VERY VERY clearly.
Meanwhile, how fitting is it that the agreement between the Government of Jamaica and CHEC (aka the Chinese government) to begin work on the transshipment and logistics hub in the “unprotected protectedarea of Portland Bight is signed on the eve of the celebration of the 52nd year of Jamaica’s…independence.  Well, we think it was signed in August 5…*wink, wink, nudge nudge*  I have seen tweets about equipment in the Portland Bight area, which suggests that an agreement was signed long ago.  It seems it is as a friend suggests: that the Government of Jamaica is deliberately withholding information about this project, choosing instead to release information in a trickle to gauge public sentiment and to mitigate.  The last time I blogged about this, I felt like I was yelling into a packed room but no one was listening; then, folks seemed (and still do) content to just deal with the hand delivered by the Government of Jamaica because, well, everyone is crab-in-a-barrelling for a piece of the proverbial pie.  Heh.  Pie done dish out and is being served in China after a spicy stir fry. 
Focus, focus, FOCUS on what is not being said, on when things are said, and by whom.  Because, of course and without appropriate pressure and persistent questioning, when all the trickles and leaks of information are put together and considered: Jamaica is for sale, is being sold, and is not at all as independent as its citizens and residents like to think.
Filed under: jamaica, news worthy, on jamaican politics & policy, seriously now