JIS News

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has said that the delay in the work on segment two of the North Coast Highway project, was as a result of modifications that had to be made to the project, to accommodate the “unexpected rapid expansion of the tourism sector”.
“The fact is that we have major developments taking place between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. From Lucea right into Ocho Rios, we are witnessing the certainty of unprecedented expansion of the tourism industry.
We have had to expand the scope of work from Montego Bay to Martha Brae, simply because we could never have anticipated, when the road was being designed, that the room capacity in that Rose Hall area would have expanded as fast and as considerably as it has,” the Prime Minister said in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (Feb.1). Meanwhile, in response to arguments submitted by Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw that there should be a policy regarding funding for infrastructure projects, which puts a benchmark interest rate on loans above which government should not go, the Prime Minister said that while low interest rate financing was the obvious option, the lowest tender was not necessarily the best tender. “It is a factor to be considered, but it is only one of several other factors to be taken into account in evaluating, which is the best and most acceptable tender”.
Mr. Patterson noted further, that multi-lateral agencies insisted on particular entities for financing even when the borrower pointed out that there were other considerations, thereby placing the borrower in a leave it or take it situation.
“In the case of segment one of the highway, the lenders of the money insisted on the recruitment of an engineering firm, which we finally had to accept to get that money, but which was contrary to the advice of our own experts and indeed in a sense appeared to us in the political directorate to have been unwise,” he said.
Mr. Patterson told the House that with these developments, a clear choice has to be made to either go along with the original construction plan or make new arrangements with the contractors.
“We paid the price for it in segment one. Nobody blames the lending agency and everybody turns around and blames the government and say that it is either incompetence or corruption, or both,” he stated.
“We have come to the conclusion that it is in the interest for everyone to see if we can reach an agreement with the existing contractors that would enable them to procure some assistance to complete or to start and complete that segment where work has not yet begun in earnest, but which is urgently necessary,” he explained.

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