JIS News

The Government is forging ahead with plans for the development of the Vernamfield Cargo Aerodrome in South West Clarendon.
Minister of Transport and Works, Hon. Michael Henry, this morning (Oct. 14) announced that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is to be signed this week between the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), and Surrey Paving and Aggregate following Cabinet’s approval of the joint venture project.
“Cabinet has approved the availability of the necessary Government land space for the development of Vernamfield, of which the first area of development will be the acreage needed for the Caribbean Aerospace College, and by extension, the MROs (maintenance repair and overhaul), which must flow from that in the repairing of aircraft engines, and by extension, the development and out-build of Vernamfield,” he stated.
Cabinet has also approved the final assessment of the feasibility study, which was done by Surrey Paving.
The first action to be taken after the MoU is signed is the leasing of space to the Caribbean Aerospace College for relocation to Vernamfield within the shortest possible time. The College is now headquartered at Dumphries Road in New Kingston.
The Aerospace College, which will be a major plank of the development, is financed by Surrey Paving. The college has already opened its doors to 13 students, five of whom are to begin programmes in flight dispatch, and eight in aircraft maintenance.
Orientation was held on Friday, October 9, with students going on a tour of the Tinson Pen campus, which facilitates practical training. Courses offered include aircraft maintenance engineering (diploma); flight dispatch (certificate); and airport management (certificate). In the academic year 2011 other courses will be added including flight attendance; aviation management, and other aviation certification programmes.
Under the MoU, the Port Authority will be designated as the executing agency for the Government. The agreement will also contain provisions for the Government’s exclusivity in the use of the lands needed for the project over 24 months, or the period of the MoU, whichever is shorter. This is in lieu of the vesting of Government- owned lands.
Highlighting the financing and economic benefits of the development, Mr. Henry said the project is likely to cost anywhere from US$500 million to US$1.2 billion. He informed that financing will not be coming from the Government of Jamaica (GoJ) or from GoJ guarantees, but is expected to be a combination of public and private sector investment, as well as multi-national financing.
The redevelopment is scheduled for approximately five years, and 5,000 workers, or five per cent of the local construction work force is likely to be employed during construction, earning $6.13 billion over the period.
“Industrial roads driven by Vernamfield infrastructure could have an important benefit for the Jamaican economy,” Mr. Henry noted further, while a 10 per cent growth in the transport storage and communications sector is projected. “The incremental amount is worth $6.9 billion in annual contribution to GDP (gross domestic product),” Mr. Henry added.
By January of next year, construction is to begin on the extension of the toll road from Vineyards into Vernamfield at an estimated cost of $100 million.
Meanwhile, the Works Ministry is in discussions with the Ministry of National Security and the Jamaica Defence Force to work out the transition of the Air Wing to Vernamfield. “This development is going to be driven very much by the placement and the involvement of the Jamaica Defence Force, and certainly, its Air Wing to begin with,” Mr. Henry noted.
Vernamfield also has potential for an aircraft maintenance facility, which will cover more than 1.96 million square feet of floor area in a three-storey sorting facility, housing cold storage and sorting equipment to handle more than 120,000 parcels per hour; centralised cargo sorting and clearance centres; and a state of the art aerodrome with telecommunications centre and runway capacities.

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