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Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill, on Saturday (March 11) signed a contract valued at approximately US$50 million, for the dualisation of the roadway from the Sangster International Airport to the Wyndham Rose Hall Hotel in St. James.
Immediately following the contract signing, he broke ground to mark the official start of the work, which will be carried out under segment 2 of the North Coast Highway Improvement Project (NCHIP), which runs from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios.
In his address at the contract signing ceremony held at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort, Minister Pickersgill explained that at the request of tourism interests in Montego Bay, it was decided to revise the scope of work under segment 2 (1) of the NCHIP, which covers 27 kilometers from Montego Bay to Greenside in Trelawny, to now include the dualization of the corridor from the airport to Rose Hall.
He explained that this part of the project, to be called segment 2A, was being financed by a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The works will be undertaken over 18 months by E. Pihl and Sons A.S of Denmark.
Minister Pickersgill sought to allay fears about the management of traffic during the construction stage, especially during the period of World Cup Cricket in 2007.
“The contract starts in March 2006 and is scheduled to end in September 2007, a period of 18 months. Two lanes of carriageway along the corridor as well as 50 per cent of the four-lane portion (the dualized portion) of the road is scheduled for completion in March 2007, before the start of World Cup Cricket,” he informed, adding that the rest of the work would be completed by September.
He urged the contractors to be particularly sensitive in managing traffic during the construction period.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Horace Peterkin, and first Vice President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, Mark Hart, who represented private sector interests at the signing ceremony, both lauded the government for agreeing to undertake the project.
Mr. Peterkin pointed out that about 70 per cent of hotels and tourist attractions in western Jamaica were located along the corridor from the airport to Rose Hall, which made the road project very significant.
“It’s going to do a number of things. It’s going to enhance the product in different ways, improve the comfort of our visitors, the time of travel from the airport to the hotels, and will substantially improve the image of the destination”, Mr. Peterkin stated.
Mr. Hart, in his remarks, said that the project would transform a very important corridor to the economy of the west.