- There are great expectations among business interests and state officials that Jamaica will benefit significantly from Government’s development of the North/South Highway.
- Construction of the 66-kilometre highway is being undertaken in three stages by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) at a cost of US$730 million.
- The project is being financed through loans provided by the China Development Bank, with additional inputs from CHEC Americas.
There are great expectations among business interests and state officials that Jamaica will benefit significantly from Government’s development of the North/South Highway, which provides a shortened link between Kingston and Ocho Rios, St. Ann.
Construction of the 66-kilometre highway is being undertaken in three stages by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) at a cost of US$730 million, and is the largest infrastructure development project to be undertaken in Jamaica.
The project is being financed through loans provided by the China Development Bank, with additional inputs from CHEC Americas. None of the loans required guarantee or security from the Government of Jamaica.
With the recent completion of the Linstead to Moneague leg, spanning St. Catherine and St. Ann, travel time has been reduced by 40 per cent.
It is expected that when the highway, which will includes two additional legs, is complete, the journey between Kingston and Ocho Rios, which currently takes one hour and 45 minutes along the regular route, will be reduced to approximately 45 minutes when the by-pass road is traversed.
The highway will see motorists entering the corridor at Caymanas in St. Catherine, bypassing the Flat Bridge and Mount Rosser, en route to Ocho Rios.
In between both points, motorists will travel through communities Waterloo, Content, Giblatore, and Wakefield in St. Catherine, and Phoenix Park, Golden Grove, and Steerfield, in St. Ann.
Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) President, Francis Kennedy, tells JIS News that the anticipated increase in commercial and residential infrastructure development as a result of the highway should further strengthen Jamaica’s economy. Additionally, that it is expected to boost for the Government’s proposed Logistics Hub Initiative.
He contends that cruise ships passengers will find it easier to travel between Ocho Rios to Kingston, further “opening Kingston’s tourism (product).”
In order to maximize on this prospect, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association (JHTA) has commenced collaborative work with the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Kingston Metropolitan Resort Board, and the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
“It presents wonderful opportunities for twinned marketing of Kingston and Ocho Rios. It affords persons the opportunity to make an easy day’s trip, and to see two sides of Jamaica, on a vacation package,” JHTA President, Nicola Madden Greig, says.
She points out that: “there is a focus on Kingston (as) we have the ability to attract a different kind of traveler. City tourism is growing, and the new millennium traveller is one who is attracted to a city destination; and Kingston has all the amenities and services to attract that visitor.”
Mrs. Madden Greig notes that the city travel concept has boosted the economies of many cities globally, adding that Jamaica is developing its own brand.
“It is a different kind of traveler…one who wants culture, entertainment, and we are able to deliver on that. We will be (able) to work on other products within the city to ensure that that experience is enriched,” she adds.
The highway is deemed as one of several signal statements to investors that Jamaica is open for business, Industry, Investment, and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, contends.
“It is of central importance to the vision of creating a Logistics Hub, and a logistic centered economy,” Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, tells JIS News.
“It opens up the country for further investments opportunities. Investors are looking to see, not only the infrastructure we put in place for global connectivity, such as the seaport and the airport; they want to look at what we are doing for internal logistics, beyond the ports. This is an important statement to the world that Jamaica is preparing itself for the Global Logistics Hub,” he says.
For his part, Minister of Transport, Works, and Housing, Hon. Dr. Omar Davies, noted that support for the project has spanned two different administrations.
This, he contended, “is a clear signal to investors that while there is intense competition between the political parties during elections, there is consistency across successive administrations with projects such as this.”
He further stated that it will present unprecedented opportunities for further investments by entrepreneurs, and encouraged those stakeholders to “seize the moment.”
Opposition Spokesperson on Housing, Water and Infrastructure, Dr. Horace Chang, who also spoke at the opening, declared that the highway can be a “foundation for sustainable development in Jamaica.” He added that “it reflects the possibilities (that exist) when we unite as a nation.”
“It will make a significant difference to our development programme,” he said, while encouraging local investors to “participate and get involved in the entire programme, to ensure that the highway brings to Jamaica the kind of activity that we all wish to have in the development programme.”
Also hailing the new road was Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay, Councillor Desmond Gilmore, who noted that business operations will definitely benefit from the decrease of the time it would normally take to travel between the South and North Coasts.