Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, says the Government is using the period of economic downturn caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to continue to prepare a number of major infrastructure projects for the country’s post-pandemic rebound.
The Governor-General, who was delivering the Throne Speech at the ceremonial opening of Parliament on Thursday (February 18), noted that these projects include the Government Campus and Houses of Parliament, for which the planning and design phases “are progressing well”.
He noted, as well, that the development of the Morant Bay Urban Centre is now in the execution phase with Cabinet having given approval for the joint venture agreement.
“In the western part of the island, important interventions, including the building of the southern and northern groynes, which are aimed at rehabilitating headlands along the Montego Bay Waterfront, were slowed but will be brought back on track in the 2021/22 financial year,” the Governor-General informed.
He further informed that works to upgrade the Closed Harbour Beach were completed and the new facility, Harmony Beach Park, will officially open soon.
Turning to the Government’s plans for the continued expansion of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in Jamaica, the Governor-General pointed out that the Port Authority of Jamaica continues to make significant investments in the Kingston Logistics Park and construction of the Portmore Informatics Park.
“This, along with continued improvement in the Port Community System, is steadily establishing Jamaica as an outsourcing and logistics destination,” he said.
The Governor-General also highlighted ongoing work to improve the country’s roadways, noting that the improvement in the ease and movement of people and goods, facilitated by previous highway projects, continues with the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP).
“Work is progressing satisfactorily on the two phases of the project: that is, the Harbour View to Port Antonio leg and the tolled section between May Pen and Williamsfield,” he said.
He noted that the Government continues to provide a more seamless process in the water, works and investment space, for faster project implementation to boost development and productivity.
“During the past year, major upgrade of the water supply system was undertaken for Kingston and St. Andrew, and water supply was commissioned to five rural communities that did not previously have water,” he informed.
The Governor-General further noted that proposed legislative changes to the Water Resources Act will assign regulatory functions to the Water Resources Authority and require it to provide technical support, in terms of floodplain mapping and flood warning systems development, to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and the planning authorities.
“Additionally, with changes to the Flood Water Control Act, the National Works Agency (NWA) will be required to design the flood-control structures and oversee construction as the implementing agency,” he said.