Jamaica News: The Government will be spending US$195 million ($2.8 billion) to undertake road construction works under the South Coast Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP), which is slated to begin by the end of September.
This initial segment of the project will entail the rehabilitation of the 14-kilometre stretch of roadway from Harbour View in Kingston to Cedar Valley in St. Thomas, by China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC), through a three-year contract.
SCHIP is part of the Government’s strategic development plan for the unlocking of the growth prospects on the south coast by connecting Negril, Westmoreland to Port Antonio, Portland via a modern highway system.
To facilitate the works, CHEC has sub-contracted this component of the project to three local contractors.
The construction company, the Government and three the sub-contractors signed off on this arrangement at a contract signing ceremony on Monday (August 26), at Jamaica House.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness; Country Manager for CHEC, Dangran Bi, along with representatives from Alcar Construction and Haulage Company Limited, Construction Solutions Limited, and Y.P. Seaton and Associates, participated in the signing ceremony.
As part of the contract, the section from Harbour View to Yallahs Bridge will be widened to four lanes to include new and improved alignments, while the existing main roads from Yallahs Bridge to Port Antonio and from Morant Bay to Cedar Valley, will be rehabilitated. Some realignments will also be done on select sections of these corridors.
Prime Minister Holness said the road improvement works is part of the Government’s thrust to “open up” and drive development in the eastern end of the island.
“We are not just making this massive investment of US$195 million because we want to put down a lovely (roadway)… but in terms of the wider development plan, we have historically pushed development to the west. We need now to push the development to the east,” he said.
He noted that once the rehabilitation of the dual carriage way is completed, there are plans to begin the development of housing solutions in the area.
“So, the Government is going to be moving with the National Housing Trust (NHT) and the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) to start developments on lands that we own there….and we call on developers to start looking now to the east to develop the lands that are now made viable,” he said.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister assured that the project will be done properly “in such a way that 50 years from now, it will be standing strong.”
For his part, Country Manager, China Harbour, Dangran Bi, said the company appreciates being chosen by the Government as the contractor for this major project.
“We are very excited to get started on this major thoroughfare, which will improve the alignment and capacity of the existing southern coastal main road to make it safer and more efficient (for) travel,” he said.
In the meantime, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, welcomed the project, noting that “this is by far the best thing to happen to the eastern end of the island in decades.”
He noted that a key component of the project is that the upgrading of water infrastructure will be undertaken simultaneously.
Under the project, new transmission and distribution lines will be installed in areas where a supply network exists and will be directly impacted by the road works.
“Where there is water, but it’s not in the pipes, the pipes will be run to facilitate the water getting to the communities. Most importantly, where there is no water, provisions will be made to be able to pipe water to communities,” Mr. Vaz assured.
The project, which is being financed by a US$384 million loan from China Exim Bank, has been divided into two segments. This includes the eastern segment which comprises the rehabilitation of Harbour View to Yallahs Bridge in St. Thomas, Yallahs Bridge to Port Antonio in Portland and the roadway from Morant Bay to Cedar Valley in St. Thomas. Two more sub-contracts are to be signed to facilitate the overall works.
The other segment entails the western section of highway 2000 from May Pen in Clarendon to Williamsfield in Manchester, which is to be undertaken at a later date.
Source: JIS News