The Government’s multibillion-dollar road infrastructure upgrades, aimed at improving traffic flow, moved apace throughout the year with a total of 66 projects undertaken in all parishes at a cost of $5.8 billion.
• Notable among these road improvements were the six legacy projects carried out under the five-year US$354-million Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP), which have been completed or are at varying stages of completion.
• The US$4.4-million Barbican Road upgrade was completed and officially opened. The works, which entailed significant widening and upgrading in the vicinity of the Barbican Centre, have helped to alleviate congestion in the area.
• The US$19-million Constant Spring Road Improvement project is 25 per cent complete. A completed section (Hillman Road to Manor Park) was opened in November.
• The US$64-million Mandela Highway Realignment and Reconstruction project is 89 per cent complete; and the US$56-million Hagley Park Road Improvement project is 35 per cent complete.
• Reconstruction of the Ferris Cross to Mackfield roadway in Westmoreland is in progress, at a cost of $24.9 million. It is 40 per cent complete.
Other Road Improvements
• A new US$1-million bypass for the Three Miles area in Kingston, which is closed to vehicular traffic to facilitate the Hagley Park Road Improvement Project, was officially opened by the Prime Minister in December.
The two-lane, 1.5-kilometre roadway links Chesterfield Drive off Spanish Town Road to Marcus Garvey Drive. It creates a dedicated access route to Marcus Garvey Drive for traffic coming from the Mandela Highway.
• Work to upgrade the Agualta Vale/Junction Road, St. Mary, being undertaken at a cost of $597 million, was 35 per cent complete.
• The Local Road Rehabilitation and Drainage Improvement Programme was undertaken at a cost of $1.35 billion; the Third Quarter Patching Programme, $20 million; Flood Damage Programme/Islandwide Disaster Mitigation Programme, $100 million; Pre-Hurricane Mitigation Programme (Drain Cleaning and De-bushing) $100 million; Second Quarter Hotmix Patching Programme, $503 million; and islandwide Spray Patching Programme,
Work On Logistics Hub Initiative Advanced
Development of Jamaica’s Logistics Hub Initiative (LHI), which could see the country potentially attracting investments totalling over US$28 billion, and generating about 80,000 direct and 400,000 indirect jobs, was advanced during the year.
• The first phase of the US$2.5-billion Vernamfield development project in Clarendon, dubbed ‘Aerotropolis Jamaica’, commenced in October.
• This involved development of the first 170 acres of lands designated for the project by the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ).
• Bushing and clearing of the existing north-south runway was undertaken to accommodate aircraft up to a specified size.
• One of three pivotal projects under the LHI, the Vernamfield project, involves development of lands that previously housed an army base, as an aerodrome to provide international air cargo and logistics services, maintenance, repair and overhaul services and an aeronautical training school.
• Logistics operations commenced on land leased at the Tinson Pen Aerodrome by Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL). The land is being developed with a view to converting Kingston into the Automobile Logistics Centre for the Caribbean. This activity is part of the proposed development of lands adjacent to the port of Kingston into a modern competitive near-port logistics centre.
• KWL launched its new 160,000-square-foot Total Logistics Centre, and all of the space has been taken up.
• The Port Authority of Jamaica also started construction of a modern 200,000-square-foot logistics facility immediately adjacent to Kingston Free Port Terminal Limited.
Special Economic Zones (SEZs)
• Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA), Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) and Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen cooperation for the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), under the LHI.
• The document establishes the agencies’ standard operating procedures and protocols for information sharing, and will be pivotal in how they develop linkages into the rest of the economy, deemed necessary for the SEZs’ success.
• The MOU will enable the establishment of a Business Acceleration Centre, a requirement under the SEZ framework, which will aid in facilitating businesses within the zones. The centre will be central in transforming the SEZ application process from manual to electronic. The overall aim is to reduce the application approval process from 120 to 30 days.
• A framework agreement was signed between the Government of Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China, under which Chinese entity, Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO) plans to develop the Jamaica-Gansu Industrial Park and Special Economic Zone in Nain, St. Elizabeth – another major project under the LHI.
• The total investment of US$ 6 billion includes expansion of the JISCO-Alpart plant.
• A total of 104 free-zone companies attained SEZ designation, following an audit by JSEZA. The approved entities have operations at 126 locations across 11 parishes.
• In just under two years since its establishment, the JSEZA already has on the ground more than US$500 million in investments and over 5,000 jobs in SEZs.
Ban on Plastics
The Government demonstrated its commitment to protecting the environment by announcing a ban on plastics starting January 1, 2019.
• The ban is on the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of single-use plastic bags, commonly referred to as “scandal bags”; expanded polystyrene foam, commonly referred to as styrofoam; and plastic drinking straws.
• A sum of $75 million was committed over three years, to implement a plastic bottle deposit scheme in partnership with Recycling Partners of Jamaica, for islandwide collection and export of plastic bottles under the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme.
• Manufacturers are encouraged to produce/distribute paper-based and other environmentally friendly alternatives for the domestic market.
Building climate change resilience and awareness
• The Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator Programme, which aims to establish the region as the world’s first climate-smart zone, was launched.
• Some 26 countries and more than 40 private- and public-sector partners have joined the accelerator, which will transform the region’s economy by fast-tracking sound public and private investment opportunities that support climate solutions for resilience, social development and broad-based growth for the Caribbean.
• The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) launched its 2015 State of the Jamaican Climate Report, which provides a concise overview of data and information on Jamaica’s climate.
• The report, which is an update of the 2012 edition, builds on the core data in the previous report, and is a first reference point with respect to parameters such as rainfall, temperature, sea level rise and solar radiation.
• A public education campaign, ‘Climate Change Information, Education and Communications’, was launched. It is aimed at changing Jamaicans’ perceptions and attitudes towards climate change while fostering a more positive approach to the issue, and highlighting the link between the impact of climate events and specific livelihoods.
• A four-year Resilient Islands by Design Project was launched in April, to help the country prioritise and invest in ecosystems that reduce its risk of disasters related to climate change. The Dominican Republic and Grenada are the other two beneficiaries of the project, which runs from 2017 to 2021.
• A team from the National Hurricane Centre and the Hurricane Hunter Association visited Jamaica as part of a public awareness, education and outreach campaign implemented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with the United States Air Force Reserves.
• Jamaica participated in the 24th session of the Conference of Parties (Pre-COP 24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Katowice, Poland.
Conferences and Workshops
• The country hosted the inaugural National Biodiversity Conference, which provided a platform for the exchange and dissemination of information on priority issues related to the preservation and conservation of Jamaica’s rich biodiversity.
• Jamaica hosted the 27th annual Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) Conference and Exhibition from October 8 to 12. More than 400 regional delegates and international participants attended the five-day event, which facilitated discussions and deliberations on a wide range of themes and topics covering water, waste water and solid waste management.
• A five-day ambient air quality workshop was held.
Improving Land Management
• Jamaica received a donation of equipment, valued at US$85,000, from the Government of the Republic of Korea to strengthen efficiency in cadastral mapping and land registration.
• The items, which include laptops and scanners, inks, waste toner bottles, and laser printers, were deployed to the Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP) and the National Land Agency (NLA).
• The process for the development of the National Spatial Plan was launched and contract signed with Acclimatise Group Limited to draft its technical papers. The National Spatial Plan will ensure the optimal use of the nation’s land and marine resources and outline the framework for their effective use and management, along with addressing issues regarding climate change.
Beach guide launched
• NEPA launched the ‘Jamaica Beach Guide’, a webpage designed to provide information on the various public beaches across the island. The webpage, located on NEPA’s website at www.nepa.gov.jm provides a list and quick facts about the featured beaches.