Jamaicans can expect a bypass road to the north coast in three years. The road which is expected to start at Caymanas, will bypass the flood prone Bog Walk Gorge, Mount Rosser and Fern Gully, and is part of the North/South link of Highway 2000.
The Government on June 21, signed implementation and concession agreements with Jamaica North South Highway Company Ltd. (JNSHC), a special purpose company established by China Harbour Engineering and Construction Company (CHEC), to undertake the development.
Chairman of the National Road Operating and Constructing Company (NROCC), Dr. Wayne Reid, explained that the approximately 68 kilometres of toll road from Caymans to Ocho Rios will be done in three segments.
The first will be approximately 27 kilometres and is expected to be completed by the middle of 2015. The second segment is just under 20 kilometres. Work on this leg is expected to start later this year and should be completed by September next year.
The third segment is from Moneague to Ocho Rios and measures approximately 21 kilometres. This segment should run concurrently with the first and is expected to be completed by June 2015.
Dr. Reid outlined that NROCC is responsible for land acquisition and leasing of the corridor to developers. The land acquisition, he explained, would begin as soon as the agreements are signed and NROCC receives detailed drawings from the developers.
He explained that his company, in collaboration with the National Works Agency (NWA), will also be responsible for the monitoring and approval of drawings; the monitoring of construction quality; operations of the roadway and for relocating utilities that “may be constraining the developer from doing its work.”
Under the Concession Agreement, the Government will make no financial investment in the project, neither will it provide any loan guarantees, revenue guarantees or traffic guarantees. To this end, the Jamaica North South Highway Company Ltd. will be given a concessionary period of 50 years to recoup its investment.
“The Government is not making any financial commitments at all, so it was considered necessary to facilitate the sole investor, developer, risk taker, sufficient time to recoup that investment with an appropriate rate of return,” Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, said at the signing.
He explained that this project is an essential part of the government’s growth strategy. “This North/South link highway will open up a range of other development possibilities, in the tourism sector, in housing and construction, in manufacturing and assembly operations, and that is the real value of infrastructure,” he said.
Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, described the toll road as “a significant investment (US$600 million) in infrastructure in the country.”
He noted that the highway will transform travel time and ease of access to the north coast, and cited additional development which would result, when that leg of Highway 2000 is completed.
“We feel that it represents an opportunity for us as a country, to open up additional economic opportunities in terms of jobs and increased economic growth,” the Minister said.
By Andrea Braham, JIS Reporter