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KINGSTON — Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Works Agency (NWA), Patrick Wong, has issued a statement in response to questions raised about the Christiana Development Road project in Manchester, in which he says that the cost is consistent with what prevails.

Concerns were expressed by chairman of the House of Representatives’ Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), Opposition MP, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, at a meeting at Gordon House, on Wednesday.

In his statement, Mr. Wong said the project is not a new one, as an attempt was made by the NWA’s predecessor, the Public Works Department (PWD), to construct a similar road in the 1970s. This project was abandoned, due primarily to a lack of technology and equipment to work in what was then considered as conditions “unfriendly” to road construction, he said.

“It was recognized from over 40 years ago that construction of a Development Road would be an imperative,” Mr. Wong stated.

On the issue of the US$8.9 million bill, Mr. Wong explained that the cost was marginally above the US$8.5 million engineer’s estimate.

“Indeed, if you should examine the cost of similar works that are being done in Jamaica, you will find that it is consistent with that which prevails,” he stated.

“Given the nature of the topography, soil type and features, such as two bridges and extensive drainage, we consider the cost to appropriate,” the CEO concluded.

The full text of Mr. Wong’s statement issued by the National Works Agency yesterday evening stated:

“I wish to stress that the Christiana Development Road project is a new works project and not a road repair effort. We are constructing this corridor through what we would classify as “virgin territory.” Given the nature of the topography, soil type and features such as two bridges and extensive drainage we consider the cost to be appropriate.

“The cost in fact is marginally above the engineer’s estimate, which was US$8.5-million.  Indeed, if you should examine the cost of similar works that are being done in Jamaica, you will find that it is consistent with that which prevails. As you are aware, work is now taking place for the construction of segment 1b1 of Highway 2000, taking the road from Sandy Bay, Clarendon to Glenmuir Road in the parish. The cost per kilometer for two lanes on this project is US$9.5 million. The US$8.9-million is therefore comparable.                        

“I wish to put in further context the construction works that we are now undertaking in the town of Christiana. A dream for an alternative road to Main Street, Christiana is not new. The government of the 1970’s through the Public Works Department attempted to construct a road along the same alignment as we are now building. This effort was abandoned, due mainly to a lack of the necessary technology and equipment being unable to work in what was then considered to be topography that was unfriendly to road construction. It was recognized from over 40 years ago that construction of a Development Road would be an imperative.

“It is widely known that the Christiana Development Road project is one of over 150 that have been embarked on during the first year of the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP). On January 10, this year, ground was officially broken for the project. Minister of Transport and Works, Honourable L. Michael Henry in his address revealed to the gathering, which included members of the media the construction cost and project scope. The fact that the project was going to be a two lane carriageway with 1.8 meter sidewalks on both sides, traffic signals and improved drainage was therefore public knowledge for at least six months.

“I wish to stress that the Christiana Development Road project is a new works project and not a road repair effort. We are constructing this corridor through what we would classify as “virgin territory.” Given the nature of the topography, soil type and features such as two bridges and extensive drainage we consider the cost to be appropriate. The cost in fact is marginally above the engineer’s estimate, which was US$8.5-million.  Indeed, if you should examine the cost of similar works that are being done in Jamaica, you will find that it is consistent with that which prevails.

“As you are aware, work is now taking place for the construction of segment 1b1 of Highway 2000, taking the road from Sandy Bay, Clarendon to Glenmuir Road in the parish. The cost per kilometer for two lanes on this project is US$9.5 million. The US$8.9-million is therefore comparable.

A breakdown of the costs is as follows:

Road

370,662,322

Retaining Structures

149,485,114

Drainage

30,236,138

Bridges

36,432,352

Preliminaries

177,983,192

Total

J$764,799,118

 

The National Works Agency in executing all its projects does serious due diligence. The economic rate of return is calculated. In fact the computed internal rate of return has carried out by the NWA, using the Highway Development Model (HDM) is 174.7% and a Net Present Value of US$26,020,000.00. Technical details are examined and current costs factored in arriving at an overall estimate.

These things help us to satisfy ourselves that a project such as the Christiana Development Road will add value to the country and to the communities around which the development takes place. Christiana is the second largest town in the parish of Manchester. It continues to grow and is projected to have a population of over 107,000 by the year 2030, an increase of nearly 40,000 over the 2011 figures.  We hold firmly to the view that this kind of investment is required in order to assist with the towns overall development.

Among the benefits that we expect to see is a 50% reduction in travel time for motorists, reduction in fuel consumption, reduction in vehicular emissions and a reduction in commuter frustration. The town of Christiana, which not only supports the many lives of persons in the parish but also from the nearby parishes of St. Elizabeth and Trelawny will grow, in the process helping Jamaica in its quest to gain first world status by 2030. This is more than a road improvement project. It is a developmental project!

I hope in laying the facts on the table, the media and the entire country will see that there has been sound reasons for us embarking on this project. A parish, a country and the people stand to benefit from this investment in our infrastructure.

 

By BALFORD HENRY, JIS Reporter & Editor