THANKS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:
Approaching three years into my stewardship of the Transport and Works portfolios, I am happy to be now delivering the kind of strategic applications that are geared at modernising all portfolio areas. This first phase of delivery has come out of in-depth analysis of the pluses and minuses of the systems that were inherited in September 2007, followed by the establishment of a clear-cut 1-3-5-7-year timeline to bring about the kinds of solution which this country deserves and yearns so much for.
There was so much that needed to be done then, that in-depth analysis was critical towards going forward. Out of the process it became clear that a joint short, medium and long-term approach had to be taken to realise the sort of positive impact that is needed, and, of course, also a shift in gear.
It has been a lot of very hard work since then, to deliver so much so far, with so much more to come, all for the betterment of the country and the people overall. These we will delve into a little later, but in going forward, I must first acknowledge the support of my various teams over the last few years.
Critically important in this effort, I have had the support and input of the leadership and general staff of the Ministry, Agencies and Entities within the portfolio areas. Their collective energies have taken us from the stage of analysis to the early stages of implementation under the 1-3-5-7-year policy framework. This welcome shift in gear approaching the three-year mark has started to unfold the shorter-term major accomplishments under the broad Multi-Modal Transport Policy of the Ministry, with the start of a major assault on the infrastructural needs of the country being on the horizon.
My appreciation goes out to the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Alwin Hales, the Chief Technical Director, other team leaders and the general staff of the Ministry, for their continued support. To the Heads of Agencies and applicable Entities, their team members, the Board Chairpersons and Members, I thank you all for your invaluable service.
Special thanks too to my wife, Dawn, and the rest of my family, along with my immediate support staff, led by my Personal Assistant Daphne Taylor, for their critical input.
I must also express appreciation to the Hon. Prime Minister for his continued confidence in me in the portfolio areas that I hold, and my Cabinet colleagues for their support and advice. Thanks also to you, Mr. Speaker, and the House staff, for continued assistance.
Likewise, I extend my gratitude to Central Clarendon, the constituency I represent in this Honourable House. I thank my constituents for their trust and understanding, especially with my ministerial duties sometimes keeping me away from them for short periods of time.
Special respect to my Councillors, Jones, Morris and Blake; the Constituency Executive, including Secretary Sharon Morgan; and the Constituency Workers, including PD Captains, Indoor Agents and Runners, whose loyalty and support have never been in doubt.
Our football team Humble Lion has demonstrated the fortitude for which we are noted in Central Clarendon, and has reclaimed a place in the National Premier Football League. This has been a source of great inspiration for the people of May Pen, Clarendon, where the potential for success through co-operation and determination has been clearly demonstrated. This I intend to achieve within the Ministry, and I am also offering as a model to the process of national governance, including the development model being established in May Pen. This involves education and training from the early childhood to tertiary levels, with special emphasis on the basic school network; new traffic management and transport plans; community development through sports and culture, including music; and various self-help projects.
Upon assuming the position and responsibilities of Transport and Works Minister in September 2007, I immediately began to focus on implementing a policy approach that I had formulated over a number of years before. Out of this process has emerged the now readily identifiable 1-3-5-7-year policy framework.
The Vision of the Ministry is to foster a modern, safe, reliable and sustainable transport system involving road, rail, sea and air, along with similar standards in respect of works infrastructure. Its mission is to contribute to the economic growth and social development of the country through the provision of the necessary transport and infrastructural networks.
Along those lines, the first broad consideration for me at the Ministry was to establish what was inherited as a critical link within a new political administration charged with the responsibility of bringing greater empowerment and opportunities to the country and people at large. This analysis got under way quite quickly and has continued from then into the implementation phases now tripping in gradually.
Under the 1-3-5-7-year policy approach, the first two years were dedicated to careful assessment of the challenges being faced, and the available options to effectively go forward. Hence, over years one and two, while mounting initiatives to address inherited short-term challenges, responding to ongoing developments and determining the overall capacity of the system to meet the major challenges, critically importantly, we have been planning for the long term. But with woefully inadequate statistics to guide the process, it’s been quite a challenge to smoothly find our way out of the jungle that apparently existed before. Soon I will reveal some very pertinent data that have since arisen.
Among the road challenges which the Ministry faced in September 2007 were the following:
. Toll road developments in disarray, without long-term planning and major issues including:
1) There was toll road financing at prohibitive 12 – 20 per cent interest rates. These have since been reduced to six to eight per cent, and with the pending Chinese funding, down to 3.5 per cent. That was a promise of the Labour Party in Opposition, which has been delivered in Government!
2) Very serious geo-technical issues that have since cost the country almost US$30 million to correct faults on the mysterious Mount Rosser leg, and another US$30 million to come, all for a roadway going nowhere, in the middle of the overall intended corridor between Spanish Town and Ocho Rios. With the previous Government having ‘Run Wid’ the project a little before the 2007 General Elections, it’s no wonder that so much technical faults continue to be discovered. This problem I will address in detail at a press conference to be held very soon.
3) Inadequate focus on the highway development between Clarendon and St. Catherine to support traffic flow along the Vineyards leg.
Other major road challenges then included:
. Extensive shoreline protection needs mainly along the island’s south eastern coastline, which have since been provisionally corrected and, and work is now under way to bring about a permanent and very pleasant solution. Again – promise made, promise being delivered!
. The poor state of many of the island’s bridges
. Major logistical challenges and potential loss of US$100 million in international grant funding for the establishment of Segment 3 of the Northern Coastal Highway project between Ocho Rios and Port Antonio. There we had, for example, bridges being constructed below sea level, and an almost amazing time overrun. The variations on the project and the issues involved, including 233 claims from the contractor amounting to billions of dollars, are only being resolved through detailed and intense application and negotiations. You can check how easy and comfortable it is to travel the full span of the Northern Coastal Highway between Negril and Port Antonio today. That is what development is about and what we are here to deliver.
. Just like there were headaches inherited along Segment 3 of the Northern Coastal Highway, there were totally inadequate traffic management arrangements along Segment 2A of the highway between Greenfield in Trelawny and Montego Bay, St. James. Check how many high-tech traffic signals and other safety mechanisms are now in place there, even though not a cent in funding was allocated for the purpose by the former administration. And there are more safeguards in terms of traffic management to come for the very important ‘Elegant Corridor’.
. There was a very serious bottleneck traffic scenario at the westerly entrance to Montego Bay, along the Bogue Road. Check what’s happening out there now and plan to be there with me in October when the fruits of the ongoing $1.4 billion expansion project will be unfolded. Again I say, promise made, promise kept
. Perennial flooding problems associated with the Yallahs Ford in St. Thomas. The PNP’s infrastructure team tried everything that came to their minds, limited as that scope may have been, and just couldn’t get it right, but today the problem of the perennial washing away of the Yallahs Bridge is no more. Need I say it again – promise made, promise kept.
On the land transportation side, the major challenges dating back to September 2007 included the following:
. A woefully inadequate operational fleet of just over 200 buses – down from over 750 at one stage – at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC). This has been remedied with the injection of 200 new buses since last year and another 100 are scheduled for delivery next. Added to that is the success of a bus rehabilitation project in Brazil, which offers an opportunity to convert hundreds of buses which were condemned by the previous administration, into efficient and comfortable public transportation. Now when I take a ride on a JUTC bus, I do so with the comfort, style and dignity that the average Jamaican deserves, and there is much more to come. Mr. Speaker and other members of this Honourable House, I crave your indulgence and ask you to try and get used to the phrase of the day. In this case it’s ‘promise made, promise being boldly delivered’ at the JUTC!
. There were also out-of-control accident claims against the bus company, which have since been contained.
. There was also chaos in terms of the regulation and management of public transportation nationally. These problems are being broadly addressed by a combination of the Colour-Coding Policy, intense competition from the new standards being established by the JUTC, and the replacement of the National Transport Co-operative Society (NTCS) franchise and the unacceptable standards and irresponsible behaviour which came with most of the membership of that franchise under the previous arrangements.
In respect of air transportation, there were expansion plans in train for the two international airports, but there ended the vision for the country in that regard. For example:
. There was no foresight in terms of the need for direct close connectivity between the airports and the aerodromes.
. There was no focus on upgrading and establishing new aerodromes, an approach which has since been changed in respect of the Boscobel Aerodrome, and is to be done followed up at Negril and Ken Jones aerodromes; and complemented with developments at Vernamfield and Duckenfield.
. There was no serious focus on tapping the real prospects of Open Skies agreements and broad global aviation connectivity. The base work which resulted in the conclusion of 15 air services agreements at the recent JAMAICAN Air Services Conference in Montego Bay tells a tale of transformation from ground zero to extremely intriguing heights through vision and focus. Now airline after airline, country after country, are seeking to come on board the Jamaican flight towards its full potential within the global aviation sector. You don’t realise such accomplishments and raise such huge possibilities by messing around in the wrong jungle.
Within the maritime transport sector, in 2007 we inherited the concept for the Falmouth Cruise Pier, but minus the necessary financing. This we have since secured and are now developing the facility for the benefit of the country and community at large, including direct emphasis on the parishes of Hanover, St. James and Trelawny under a structured transportation development plan being formulated for the area, not unlike the KMTR.
Up to 600 workers have been employed during the construction phase of the pier, and projections suggest that over 900 direct jobs could be created in the first full year of operation of the facility. That positive continuity and kind of development were promised in Opposition and are now being delivered in style in Government. Similarly, we have had to bring focus to the need to upgrade the Montego Bay and Ocho Rios cruise piers, and are engaged in positive discussions aimed at establishing a cruise pier in Port Royal, all for implementation in 2011.
Interestingly, nobody before seemed to have had the foresight to attract anything like a dry dock to Kingston, but we are now scheduled to have one in place by September of this year. That innovation came from thinking outside of the box, the same way the broad-based Open Skies approach came about. Now we didn’t promise the dry dock, but we certainly are delivering it, right?
Likewise, the bright prospects of the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) were going to waste when we took over, but all that has been turned around since 2008, with phenomenal increase in enrollment at the institution and successful placement of all its graduates over the last two years into mostly high-paying jobs across the globe. That very important success story I will tell you more about later in this presentation.
There was also shortsightedness in terms of the potential for growth of the Jamaica Ship Registry. But this has since been boosted by the opening of registries in Bremen, Germany, and in Singapore.
These positive maritime developments on the world stage helped Jamaica to be elected to Category C of the 47-member Council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for 2009-2010, with the country being re-elected for 2010-2011.
Of course, because of limited thinking in respect of the individual areas of the overall transportation portfolio, the multi-modal approach that has been fostered since September 2007 has seemed like rocket science to some who hardly seemed to have ventured into any serious long-term planning for the portfolio. For example, rail service and its critical capacity, along with the well-needed connectivity among the other modes of transportation, were seemingly not factored into any overall developmental plan for the transport sector.
But happily, we are gradually rolling out a concept that collectively envelopes all the modes of transportation – land, air, sea and rail – within the kind of broad multi-modal policy framework that will ultimately produce the sort of seamless application and efficiency that are required of public transportation. This policy places transportation at the heart of the economy, and integrated multi-modal transport as the foundation of national development. Presently, our transport system is quite limited, with few linkages among the different modes of transportation of freight and passengers.
The Multi-Modal Transport Policy is being rolled out in phases within the 1-3-5-7-year plan, with data analysis and inventory pooling of the overall transport infrastructure already under way. This will be followed by forecasting and the development of a future model for land use in relation to transportation, which are to be centred around economic activities, population growth and infrastructure capacity. The third phase will involve forward planning and project planning after the requisite prioritisation of aspects of the overall project. Phase four is to involve a detailed action agenda, institutional integration, policy programmes and costing.
Within the multi-modal transportation framework, an entire trip or journey is seen as a whole, rather than as a series of legs. Hence, you arrive at the Norman Manley International Airport and can readily locate information boards that allow you to establish your choice of seamlessly combining at least two modes of transportation in getting to your destination, whether in Linstead, St. Catherine, Falmouth, Trelawny, or Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth, for example. The multi-modal transportation framework will therefore result in you getting not only flight information at the airports and aerodromes; not only bus information at the bus transportation centres; or rail information at railway stations, but a combination of them all at each point.
Accomplishing this seamless integration of transport modes will require very detailed application guided by extensive research, which we already have under way. A survey conducted by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) in 2006, for example, revealed some very interesting information, including that:
. Up to an estimated five per cent of the motor vehicle fleet in Jamaica are heavy duty trucks, making it definitely manageable to effectively enforce the Vehicle Weight Enforcement Programme to protect the roadways from the damage being done almost entirely by the heavy units.
. Between 72 and 78 per cent of Jamaican households neither own nor operate a vehicle, and depend on public transportation to significant degrees.
. More than 50 per cent of the motor vehicles in Jamaica, excluding trucks, are over 11 years old.
. More than 60 per cent of households in rural Jamaica directly rely on route taxis or walk to work.
. More than 70 per cent of school children in rural Jamaica depend on route taxis at high costs, or walk to school.
. Some 64 per cent of the respondents in the survey who either own or operate vehicle(s) indicated that they would park their vehicles and take public transportation for no particular reason, or if the costs of gasoline and toll costs become prohibitive.
It should therefore be understood and appreciated from just these basic outlines, how important access to efficient and affordable transportation is to the productive and social base of the country. We therefore have a huge and fundamental responsibility to deliver on our mandate.
Here I wish to pause to invite the members of this Honourable House to consider giving a helping hand by using the JUTC bus service from time to time, to get a feel of the improved services being offered and help channel the general public towards the improved standards and away from the lingering chaotic elements of the competing services.
I have been riding on the JUTC buses periodically for quite some time now, totally unannounced each time, and I am recommending that you all seek to at least give it a try.
It could do so much in terms of fostering the necessary social integration in the society for the Opposition Leader, for example, to one day decide to take the JUTC bus from say Three Miles into downtown Kingston, and on the way run into Minister Olivia Grange and MP Sharon Hay-Webster on the same bus, both on their way to Parliament from Spanish Town. Can you imagine the impact such an encounter would have on all who are on that trip, and all who later learn if it?
To demonstrate my seriousness about this request of all the members of the House, I have had the JUTC prepare personalised SmartCards for each member, which are being distributed today in the House.
With so many major challenges on our plates from day one, having shadowed the Transport and Works portfolio for years before taking office, within months after, some shorter-term accomplishments started to emerge within the Ministry. These were announced in my 2008 Sectoral Presentation, and included:
. A complete remedy for the perennial flooding problem which plagued the El Greco area on the critical Queen’s Drive entrance into downtown Montego Bay.
. The sourcing of funding for and ordering of the new buses for the JUTC.
. Equipping the police patrol teams on the Highway 2000 network with vehicles to help curb the spiralling accident rate on the nation’s main roadways.
. Signalisation of the major intersections along the St. Ann corridor of the Northern Coastal Highway.
Approaching two years in office, the list of accomplishments was significantly widened to include the following, which were reported in my 2009 Sectoral Presentation:
. The completion and opening of a number of new bridges, including Milk River and Angel’s River in Clarendon; Yallahs in St. Thomas; Seven River in St. James; Johnson River in St. Thomas; Gordon Town in St. Andrew; Worthy Park in St. Catherine; and Bourbon Bridge in Portland.
. The initial acquisition of the new, state-of-the-art JUTC buses.
. Establishment of infrastructure along the Palisadoes strip to offer protection against up to category three hurricane systems.
. Privatisation and continued expansion of the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.
. Continued expansion of the Norman Manley International Airport and planning for its privatisation within a broad National Airport System framework.
. The development of a local aviation maintenance training college – Caribbean Aerospace College – based on the curriculum of the Singapore-based Air Transport Training College. The college has already produced graduates and now has a significant and growing enrollment. My special thanks to Leslie and Jamie Chang, the main driving forces behind the initiative, for their support in this endeavour. Again, thinking way outside the box, we are delivering even what was not promised!
. Thorough rehabilitation and reconstruction of much of the Bog Walk Gorge roadway, including successfully using cement in some places to ensure more durability. I just said it and I have to do it again. Thinking outside the box has worked for us with the concrete works along the Bog Walk Gorge roadway. We promised to do things differently and that is exactly what we are doing.
. Extensive reconstruction of the Sandy Gully network across Kingston and St. Andrew, which had been damaged over decades and was devastated by Tropical Storm Gustav in August 2008. Here I pause to bring your attention to an entire publication which detailed the gully woes across the Corporate Area back then, in comparison to the complete transformation since then, all by this administration. I will resist the temptation to repeat the phrase of the day this time around.
Today, after almost three years in office, the accomplishments of the Ministry are even more pronounced. These include the following:
. The completion of the Waterloo Bridge in St. Andrew, the Fairfield Bridge in St. James, the Green Island Bridge in Hanover and the Alligator Church Bridge in Portland, among other such major connecting infrastructure. This was within the very challenging environment that was brought on by rampant theft of metal from such public infrastructure for sale as scrap metal.
. Acquisition of more and more new JUTC buses, although with darker than desirable tinting of late, which is something which I am having examined with a view of determining where things went wrong, and to correct the problem, where possible.
. Completion of expansion work on the Boscobel Aerodrome in St. Mary, transforming the facility into the island’s third international port of call via air, which is scheduled for official opening shortly, possibly named after a celebrated international figure. It is to be noted that with changes in the operational plans of Air Jamaica over recent years, the aerodromes have grown in significance, hence the drive to upgrade them and establish new ones, where necessary.
. Dualisation of the Bogue Road entrance to Montego Bay to erase the traffic nightmare that has been perennially associated with the area.
. Signalisation of Montego Bay’s town centre with the addition of 22 sets of new traffic signals, which will soon to be electronically controlled from a central point, with a surveillance network in place, to effect very efficient traffic management and security arrangements for the city’s central district.
. Complete signalisation of the Elegant Corridor in Montego Bay and the highway extending to Greenwood on the border of St. James and Trelawny.
. The ongoing establishment of the Falmouth Cruise Pier to accommodate the world’s largest cruise liners with over 8,000 people on board, beginning in November of this year.
. The six-lane expansion of the Washington Boulevard/Dunrobin Avenue corridor in St. Andrew.
. Completion of phase one of major shoreline protection works at Roselle in St. Thomas
. Relocation of the Causeway fishing village to Jamworld in St. Catherine, including the establishment of seaside landing and departure facilities at the new location.
Mr. Speaker, I pause to say it collectively, not individually, as before. These were all promises from the JLP in Opposition, which have been, or are now being delivered in Government.
This volume of major accomplishments should not, however, be surprising, based on the timelines associated with the 1-3-5-7-year policy framework which has guided the Ministry’s policy direction since September 2007. With years one and two being dedicated mostly to analysis and assessment of the challenges, year three represents the time when the real deliverables begin to kick in. These will be intensified into years four and five, with critical collaboration with other Government Ministries to accomplish some solutions which require this integration. These include the establishment of free zones and logistics centres, along with the establishment of a Single Road Authority. Year seven signifies the timeframe for the realisation of the even more complex goals, including the full roll-out of the Multi-Modal Transport Policy involving road, rail, sea and air. Now if anyone thought we were done, let it be understood that we are just warming up.
It should be appreciated that for quite some time now, the Government and Ministry have operated within a very challenging global economic environment, including of late, very stringent International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions. Likewise, some of the agencies and entities within the Ministry have experienced severe individual challenges over recent times, including, for example, the JUTC losing almost $50 million in revenue during the unrest within sections of the KMTR in late May.
But on the positive side, it is noteworthy that we are now embarking on a number of key initiatives going forward to year five, and further a-field to year seven. These include the Palisadoes Shoreline Rehabilitation and Protection Works, which involve the creation of a two-lane roadway or a four-lane corridor at a relatively small additional cost. The US$65 million project is intended to not only protect the Palisadoes shoreline, but also deliver the sort of aesthetic surroundings that have long been imagined but never delivered in respect of that gateway to the capital city. This includes a boardwalk with selected vending options; a jogging trail; and a return to user-friendly recreational arrangements along the strip.
Among the developments slated to complement the rehabilitated Palisadoes strip is the re-opening of the Gunboat Beach facility, a once popular venue along the peninsula.
Similarly, it is to be noted that construction of a four-lane bridge over the Dry River at Harbour View in St. Andrew, is to begin on August 16. The original bridge collapsed during Tropical Storm Gustav in 2008. Why four lanes? Because this business of planning for only around the corner has gotten us nowhere in the past, and I will not adopt the effete kind of thinking that has bypassed any serious long-term planning for the development of our public infrastructure.
There is also the new Vehicle Weight Enforcement Programme to help protect the costly road infrastructure being put in place from damage caused by over-laden trucks. Mobile weigh scales have been acquired and are now operational across the country, while four static weigh stations are to be established in Trelawny, St. Mary, St. Catherine and St. Andrew.
The Right of Way Policy also being formulated to ensure the public coffers benefit from the use of the public thoroughfares by businesses which gain directly and extensively from the use of the public thoroughfares.
Both the Vehicle Weight Enforcement Programme and the Right of Way Policy again came from thinking outside the box, and would obviously not have seen the light of day within the jungle that existed at the Ministry before. So again we are forced to remind this Honourable House and Jamaica t large, that we promised development and innovation, and we are busy keeping those promises.
The establishment of a dry dock in Kingston through private sector funding clearly represents a major endorsement of Jamaica’s ability to attract international investment, as was widely recognised by an outline from JAMPRO last week. The agency cited a report that Jamaica led the entire region in terms of attracting overseas investments for a period recently, and we know we have been doing our part at the Ministry of Transport and Works. So how come we keep hearing about ‘nothing nah gwaan’?
The dry dock is also tied to the increasing maritime training opportunities at the Caribbean Maritime Institute. This spells good for both training and employment opportunities within this new-found industry locally.
At the same time, the Government is now about to embark on the most comprehensive road rehabilitation and repair programme in this country. From a loan facility of some US$340 million from China EXIM Bank, this programme is to be rolled out across the island later this year, bearing in mind, of course, the possible implications of the ongoing hurricane season. The rehabilitation and repair programme will involve roadways across the country and include all 60 constituencies. Very importantly, too, is that it will involve both main roads and parish council roads as part of the Single Road Authority focus of the Government, as we promised in Opposition.
Among the major developments still to come, which are relative to the time span between now and the seven-year outer boundary, include the completion and unfolding of critical long-term programmes and policies such as:
. The Vernamfield development.
. The gradual rolling out of passenger rail service
. The development of a logistics centre network including Tinson Pen and Vernamfield.
. And the formal establishment of a Single Road Authority to handle all road works island-wide
Turning to the actual agencies and entities within the Transport and Works portfolios, while more details are outlined in a supplementary publication being tabled today, I will now give the following short updates:
ROAD AND INFRASTRUCTURE:
The National Works Agency
With new leadership at the level of now Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Wong, the National Works Agency (NWA) undertook many major projects during the financial year 2009-2010, including road expansion, rehabilitation and maintenance projects, along with many bridge construction projects.
The works included completion of over 110 kilometres of road resurfacing, including the six-kilometre stretch between Gutters and Freetown in St. Catherine, and the 3.6 kilometre Fern Gully roadway. This was in addition to micro-surfacing and hot-mix patching, which have being applied to vast lengths of roadways island-wide.
In the Buff Bay and Rio Grande valleys in Portland, extensive rehabilitation works were undertaken by the NWA, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars so far, with more works slated for the area.
Broadly speaking, work has been ongoing on the Dry River bridge; Yallahs river training works, and the design for drainage at the Big Pond in St. Catherine.
The dualisation of a section of the Waterloo Road corridor in St. Andrew and the construction of a new bridge there were completed and have since been officially opened, with signalisation introduced to the respective intersections.
Of some 16 major bridges which were targetted for construction over the financial year 2009-2010, 13 were completed. These included Angels River, Clarendon; Gordon Town, St. Andrew; Queens River, Hanover; Martha Brae, Trelawny; Waterloo, St. Andrew; Worthy Park, St. Catherine; Springfield, Clarendon; Fairfield, St. James; and Alligator Church, Portland. This is while work on other bridges, including over the Dry River at Harbour View; at Troy in Trelawny; and at Steer Town in St. Ann, are under way.
At a more localised level, the NWA has also been at work on a number of smaller bridges, including at Exchange, St. Ann; Milford, St. Ann; Grants Pen, St. Andrew; Broadgate, St. Mary; Gobay, St. Catherine; Bourbon, Portland; and Above Rocks, St. Catherine.
Among the major road projects under way, the Bogue dualisation in Montego Bay is scheduled for completion in by the end of September 2010, while the Washington Boulevard project is just days behind schedule.
Over the year in review, a number of major gullies have been attended to, including Shewbury, Portland; Western Park, Clarendon; Lewis Street, Clarendon; Swift River, Portland; White River, Portland; Chepstowe, Portland; Windsor Castle, Portland; Eleven Miles, St. Andrew; and Soapberry, St. Andrew/St. Catherine. These were done under the NWA’s Flood Control, Mitigation & Damage Rehabilitation Programme.
In the same vein, over $3.8 billion was spent on drain cleaning and repairs, including Buff Bay Valley Phase One, over the year.
I wish to extend my appreciation of the efforts that have been made by both the management and staff of the NWA, and urge the same sort of focus and commitment going forward.
The Road Maintenance Fund
During the 2009/2010 financial year the Road Maintenance Fund (RMF) financed approximately 222,000 square metres of road repairs valued at $640 million. This included:
. Routine maintenance geared towards pothole elimination, bushing, drain cleaning and the repair of road furniture.
. Periodic maintenance, that is, less regular interventions, including micro-surfacing and road rehabilitation.
Very importantly, the Fund engaged in a number of innovations over the year, including the use of clay, a special rubber material and a special technique for easier and more lasting repairs to farm roads. These helped to widen the span of repair works generally, and to ensure greater durability from these repair efforts.
Major Programmes and Initiatives for 2010/2011
The major initiatives of the Road Maintenance Fund for the present financial year include the following:
. The US$400 million GOJ/China EXIM Bank Road Infrastructure Development Project. . A $378 million Routine Maintenance Programme to include hot mix patching, spray patching and maintenance of roadways.
. A $400 million Periodic Maintenance Programme Funded from the PetroCaribe Development Fund Loan.
Of course there are challenges facing the road maintenance programme, including the global recessionary impact on the national financial resources needed to keep the island’s main roads in an acceptable condition. Also adding to the hurdles facing the Fund are the increasing cost of a number of the main input material for its micro-surfacing, spray patching and hot mix patching programmes.
In respect of the Highway 2000 project, it is important to note the pending developments, which I mentioned earlier. These include the Sandy Bay to Williamsfield south coast link of approximately 37.7 kilometres, which the developer has proposed to do in two phases:
Phase 1B1 – Sandy Bay to Four Paths
Phase 1B2 – Four Paths to Williamsfield
Arrangements for the financing of the first phase of the highway (Sandy Bay to Four Paths) have now been concluded with four multilateral institutions, namely: – The Inter-American Development Bank- IFC- Propoarco- The European Investment Bank
A total of approximately US$257 million has been agreed to refinance the existing project and carry out construction on Phase 1B. Once agreement is reached with respect to the contractual arrangements with NROCC and the GOJ, work is expected to begin.
Legal possession of almost all the 143 properties required has been secured.
(NOTES RE THE NORTH SOUTH LINK)
Phase 2A – North South Link
The north south Link – Spanish Town to Ocho Rios – which was designed without financing, is comprised of the following sections:
1. Spanish Town to the end of the Linstead Bypass (Tie-in with Highway 2000) to Bog Walk2. Linstead to Moneague – Mt. Rosser Bypass – 25km3. Moneague to Ocho Rios
The link, which has been beset with major technical problems associated with the Mount Rosser leg in the middle, continues to pose such challenges, which are severely hampering the development of the overall Spanish Town to Ocho Rios link.
Outside of the Mount Rosser challenges, the same process being employed for the Sandy Bay to Four Paths to Williamsfield south coast leg of the highway network is in train for the overall north south link, but this is far less advanced. for section one link – Spanish Town to the Linstead by-pass. There the present focus is on land acquisition. So far 420 properties have been identified that will be affected. Within these properties 146 occupants have registered titles.
Very important, too, in respect of the Highway 2000 network, is the ongoing corrective works on a section of the Causeway leg of the Highway 2000 network. This speaks to our stewardship in getting the builder and operator of the toll road to take responsible for inadequacies along the network, and to remedy these where required. The Causeway corrective works involve the use of a type of foam material as a baseline to support the surface of the roadway, to ensure the problem with sinking of the surface does not re-occur.
Also to be noted is that there will be no increase in toll rates this year, due to the stability of the exchange rate and other economic indicators relative to the toll rates. This was after extending the application window for increases to once per year instead of half yearly.
Jamaica Urban Transit CompanyIn respect of land transportation, I can report that the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) has come a far way in improving the general level of service being offered to commuters across the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR). With the addition of 200 new air-conditioned buses so far, and another 100 more schedule for arrival, the typical bus ride has certainly been transformed. Likewise, the company’s fiscal and operational performances have been steadily improving, with stability becoming an integral feature of its existence, in stark contrast to years ago.
Among the positives coming out of the JUTC are the following:Realisation of the highest passenger lift for a single month since 2006, in March of this year, a clear sign of the public appreciation of the new look, style and standard being offered.Realisation of improved ridership over the last financial year, with 52 million passenger trips in comparison to 49 million the year before. This ridership is targeted to increase to 62 million this financial year.Growth of SmartCard usage to 22 per cent of the company’s revenue in March 2010, with plans to increase this to 25 per cent this financial year, and to 50 per cent by the end of the next financial year ending March 2012.The successful completion of the pilot bus rehabilitation project in Brazilian.Comprehensive rehabilitation of a significant number of old JUTC buses locally, under an ongoing internal project at the company. One of the oldest units in the JUTC’s fleet, a 1995 Volvo bus, is among the rehabilitated batch, and it has since been working longer hours than most of the newer buses. That rehabilitated 1995 unit is also parked outside the House for viewing this afternoon. The Jamaica Ultimate Tyre Company Limited, a subsidiary of the JUTC, produced gross profit of $65.9 million for the period April 2009 to March 2010, an increase of 12.8 per cent over the same period the year before ($58.4 million), this under very harsh economic conditions. The tyre company’s operating profit of $9.2 million for 2009/2010 was a whopping 807.7 per cent improvement from negative $1.3 million the previous year, and I wish to specially congratulate the team behind that performance, including General Manager Kenry Jackson, Board Chairman Dennis Chung, and the other Board Members, including Paul Abrahams, who heads the JUTC.
The Transport Authority
During the 2009-2010 fiscal year the Transport Authority (TA) intensified its overall regulatory activities from an operational standpoint. A total of 571 major operations were undertaken during the year, representing a five per cent increase over the corresponding period the year before.
There was also an 11 per cent increase in prosecutions from operational activities, with 34,758 prosecutions being effected. These resulted in fines of over $33.9 million going to the Consolidated Fund. Additionally, 5,757 seizures were carried out.
The Authority has been charged under its new leadership, to much more proactively tackle infringements of the Transport Authority Act among passenger vehicle operators. This has paid good dividends in respect of the joint Police/Transport Authority clampdown in Half-Way Tree Square, for example. That level of focus, with a sustained approach, are required going forward.
The Island Traffic Authority
The Island Traffic Authority has been visibly modernising its service, with various new initiatives being unfolded. Among these has been the Vehicle Weight Enforcement Programme, a key initiative to protect the island’s main road network from damage associated with over-laden trucks and other vehicles. Very importantly, the weight enforcement measures will also help to improve road safety, as the spillage of aggregate from trucks has been widely associated with the overloading of such vehicles, and this has caused numerous serious accidents along the roadways.
Montego Bay Metro
Over in western Jamaica, the operations of the Montego Bay Metro bus service have been boosted by the addition of new air-conditioned units to the company’s fleet. This has allowed for more flexibility in the services offered by the company. The public bus service model being formulated for Montego Bay is to be replicated with the required adjustments in three other rural towns – Ocho Rios, Santa Cruz and May Pen – as part of a major thrust to establish such services within and around rural towns. The model will focus heavily on workers and students, and in the case of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, the tourism industry. It should be noted that the project areas include the tourism centres, the farming belt in St. Elizabeth, and May Pen, the fastest growing town in Jamaica. Also, the mix includes Montego Bay with rail connection, Ocho Rios and Santa Cruz without such connection, and May Pen, with a mix of sugar belt, bauxite and highway connectivity.
The initiative is coming out of recognition of the cost for children and workers to attend school and work, which more structured public transportation arrangements will help to defray. The proposed plan for May Pen, for example, will involve a service that covers all the major schools within and around the town.
In the same vein, additional new buses are slated for Montego Bay, to pioneer the introduction of a dedicated transport service for public sector workers in the area. The arrangements for this service are now being finalised, but already we are very excited about extending this facility to the west.
Jamaica Railway Corporation
In respect of the Jamaica Railway Corporation, the Government recognises the challenges to fund a total railway rehabilitation project within the current economic environment, and has embarked on a new policy to identify, pursue and implement bankable sub-projects. Income from these sub-projects is over time expected to bring financial stability to the railway.
The key factor is the high net book value of the railway. It is in the nation’s interest to utilise this asset by making incremental inputs of capital in these sub-projects.
The Ministry is now increasing the capacity of the Jamaica Railway Corporation to effectively manage the revitalisation process, to ensure that the country benefits fully from the overall initiative. This includes generating alternative revenue sources from the railway’s rich heritage, its vast intellectual asset base, and its uninterrupted right-of-way corridor.
As the Government of Jamaica seeks to promote the development of an integrated, multi-modal public transport system, including gradually restoring the rail service, after some setbacks, we are getting closer to the reactivation of the train service. This was one of the pivotal promises of the Jamaica Labour Party before taking the reins of Government, and it took really steady hands to get us this close.
As we speak, potential investors are in the island and a broad range of possibilities are on the horizon. Whichever way things go in terms of the negotiations, we are anticipating some forward movement in respect of the rail service soon.
I look forward to the employment which the rail service will generate. I am sure the entire Jamaica is looking forward to the pending development.
The Maritime Authority of Jamaica Despite a global downturn in shipping, which impacted targetted registrations, the Maritime Authority of Jamaica exceeded its revised revenue projections by $19.4 million or 40 per cent. The $67.4 million earned was made possible by increased local trade certifications, annual income from vessels already on the register, and endorsements issued to foreign seafarers employed on Jamaican-registered ships.
The MAJ’s 2009/2010 performance exceeded the $53.6 million earned in the previous year by $13.8 million or nearly 26 per cent.
Through tight fiscal management, expenditures were, on the other hand, contained within budget, totalling $174.2 million or about three per cent below the $180 million budgeted.
Election to IMO Council and STW Sub-Committee In a keenly contested election, Jamaica was successful in being re-elected to Category C of the Council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for the 2010-2011 biennium at the 26th Extra-Ordinary Session of the Council last November.
The Council has 40 elected members of a total of 183 membership of the IMO. Our position on the Council has served to increase tremendously, Jamaica’s profile and status as a maritime nation, and support the credibility of our progression to develop the island as a maritime centre.
Jamaica was also elected for the seventh consecutive year to continue its Chairmanship of the IMO STW Sub-Committee. In this capacity, Jamaica has been charged with the responsibility of spearheading the review of the STCW Convention which governs the training and certification of seafarers.
Heartiest congratulations are in order for Chairman, Board and leadership of the Maritime Authority, including Director General, Rear Admiral Peter Brady.
The Caribbean Maritime Institute
The past year represented a significant leap forward for the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) in its continued thrust to expand its status as a world-class institution. Notwithstanding the onset of the world recession and the consequent global downturn in the shipping industry, the CMI continued to ride the healthy wave of the Blue Ocean Strategy Philosophy, and to keep afloat.
It is to be noted that the CMI, under its new thrust, has the highest rate of placement of its graduates among all tertiary educational institution in Jamaica, a very enviable position in comparison to what existed at the institution a few years ago.
The CMI is also the first approved maritime and training institution in the region to be certified ISO 9001:2008. This certification was officially handed to the Institute on February 23, 2010, by the prestigious, world-renowned, Lloyds’ Register Quality Assurance.
Through the efforts of the Government of Jamaica, the CMI has experienced further diversification of its programmes with the installation of a bus driving simulator last year, aimed at offering retraining for both public and private sector employees. This development will certainly go a long way towards promoting the CMI as a simulator centre in the Caribbean.
With the global recession steadily receding, the CMI is poised to intensify its training curriculum and gradually increase its annual on-campus and distance enrolment to over 3,000, which is anticipated to bring about a significant boost to youth employment, especially with the generally high-paying jobs on offer in the maritime sector.
It should be noted that the numbers of graduates have increased sharply at the institute, reflecting very positive results based on the support which the institution has been getting from the Government since late 2007.
Of note, too, is the involvement of the CMI in the new thrust to develop more skills locally for the global yachting industry. In this regard, a batch of yachting students recently graduated from the CMI, and are now being placed in this very affluent and lucrative industry.
Again, commendations are in order for the CMI Board and Management, especially Executive Director, Fitz Pinnock.
The Port Authority of Jamaica
With the global recession hitting shipping lines very badly, every international port has experienced a decline in volumes and has had to adopt strategies aimed at reducing costs and enhancing efficiency. These measures include staff rationalisation and the implementation of technological solutions to improve operational efficiency and productivity. Over the last fiscal year, Jamaica’s ports experienced a significant fall in vessel calls and cargo volumes.
Notwithstanding these difficulties over the year, the shipping industry continued its critical contribution to national development and the day-to-day endeavours of the Jamaican people. And very importantly in that challenging environment, the Port Authority made a profit for the last financial year.
For the fiscal 2009/2010 there were 3,377 vessel calls at Jamaican ports, a reduction of 3.62 per cent compared with the 3,504 calling in the 2008/2009 fiscal year.
Throughout the year, the drive to improve productivity and overall efficiency at the Kingston Container Terminal was pursued relentlessly, and bore significant fruit. Indeed, workers at the KCT established a record in the last quarter of the fiscal year, when in the first week of February they accomplished a sustained production of 42 container moves an hour while working the Zim Antwerp, the first of the new generation of mega container vessels to call at the terminal.
The Zim Antwerp has a capacity of 10,062 containers and it is expected that several more of these 10,000 to 12,000 TEU mega vessels will be calling regularly at Hub ports like Kingston over the next two years, and even more so when the expansion of the Panama Canal is completed in the next three years.
In fiscal 2009/2010 there was an overall decline of 13.26 per cent in cargo volumes handled at the country’s ports, which handled just over 25 million tonnes, as against almost 29 million tonnes the previous year.
This is within the context that with the exception of Rocky Point, there was a significant decline in alumina exports from all ports through which bauxite/alumina is shipped out of Jamaica. Alumina exports at Port Esquivel and Port Kaiser declined by 80.7 per cent and 83.3 per cent respectively, while alumina exports from Rocky Point increased by 24.3 per cent. Concurrently, bauxite exports from Port Rhodes recorded a 28.3 decline.
In 2009, work got started on the development of a new cruise pier and facilities in Falmouth, Trelawny, which will host the new Genesis Class Generation of mega vessels recently introduced into the industry by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line International (RCCL). These new ships boast a capacity of some 6,000 passengers and a crew of over 2,000.
The new Falmouth Cruise Pier will consist of a seaside development (pier, Customs, Immigration and related facilities), as well as a landside development (featuring shops, restaurants, art and craft and in-bond offerings, transportation facilities, as well as housing).
The landside development being undertaken by RCCL will feature Georgian architecture, for which the town of Falmouth is already noted. The pier being developed at Falmouth will be able to host two vessels at a time, and on completion, will effectively double available berths to the cruise sector.
The Port Authority of Jamaica expects that the seaside development will be completed by November of 2010, and current projections are for the first cruise vessel to visit the new port the same month, and the first of the new mega vessels in 2011.
The PAJ is also in discussions with a major cruise line regarding the further upgrading of the ports of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, while discussions are ongoing with RCCL for the establishment of a cruise pier at the historic Port Royal in Kingston.
On the negative side, I must note the sad news of the recent death of a shipping industry worker in a traffic accident on Marcus Garvey Drive at the Tinson Pen intersection. Calls a pedestrian bridge at the intersection are most appropriate, as the particular needs of the shipping community at that particular intersection are extremely relevant. It appears that the time has come for very keen focus to be given to the possible relocation of the pedestrian bridge which the former administration built in the wrong place in the area, resulting in it not been used for the many years which it has been in place. We had to correct bridges being built below sea level in St. Mary and Portland, and now we will have to look at relocating a bridge that was built at the wrong place. It can hardly get more interesting than that, I believe.
Also, I intend to revisit a proposal for the public bus service to be routed through sections of the shipping community off Marcus Garvey Drive, which would lesson the need for workers in he area to cross the busy thoroughfare to get to and from their places of employment.
The Airports Authority of Jamaica
Despite the challenges brought on by significant rises in fuel prices and the negative impact of the global financial recession, the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ) and the airport operators continued to make significant strides in the expansion and modernisation of the island’s airport infrastructure, in keeping with the Government’s commitment to build and sustain a world-class air transport system.
The airport operators, NMIA Airports Limited in the case of the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA), and MBJ Airports Limited (a private entity) in the case of the Sangster International Airport (SIA), have been delivering on their commitment to substantially complete their respective capital development projects and improve their operational services. The AAJ is also in the final stages of completing an upgrade of the Boscobel aerodrome to an International Port of Entry (IPE), capable of receiving general aircraft traffic and small jets from other international ports.
The AAJ is also providing project management services in exploring the technical feasibility for an International Port of Entry at Duckenfield in St. Thomas. However, a six-month stop order has been placed on the preliminary engineering studies. Similarly, the AAJ is providing technical support to the Vernamfield airport project.
The development programmes of the airports and aerodromes are intended to ensure that these national economic assets not only continue to meet international standards, but also retain the capacity for growth in passenger traffic, cargo and aircraft movements.
Major strides were made over the last year to enhance the overall passenger experience at NMIA, with further additions to the line-up of retail concessions, broadening the range of goods and services offered, as well as unrestricted access to more shops – bolstering the “Shop the NMIA way” drive. As the airport users get more familiar with the various automated systems that were recently introduced. These include the Common User Passenger Processing System (CUPPS) at airline counters, baggage area and gates; the Common Use Self Service (CUSS) system in the ticketing hall; and five Boarding Bridges. Overall, the total service level has increased significantly and, from all indications, they were well worth the investment.
These developments augur well for the planned divestment of the airport, and its central role in the National Airport System which is being developed.
For the Sangster International Airport, an important achievement was the substantial completion of the final phase of their three-phased Capital Development programme, providing more comfortable and user-friendly facilities. Out of these developments Jamaica’s airports are now increasingly competitive and attractive, and are being positioned as the gateways to the Caribbean and the Americas.
Of much significance during the last financial year was the unfortunate American Airlines crash outside the Norman Manley International Airport on December 22. That brought numerous questions into focus, but also demonstrated the fortitude and humanity of Jamaicans as a people, including JUTC bus driver, Annette Howard, who bravely spearheaded the rescue of over 100 of the ill-fated passengers, and drove then to the airport police station.
Out of the ensuing considerations and in tandem with plans that were already in place, more safety-related features are to be introduced to the airport, and new control towers are to be established there.
Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority
The 2009/2010 financial year was a significant one for Jamaica’s air transport industry. Despite challenges in the global economy, Jamaica recorded increases in the number of permits issued for non-schedule charter service, as 177 permits were issued, which is an increase of 83 per cent when compared to the previous year.
The island also saw the entrance of two major North American carriers in the market, offering scheduled service from major American cities to Montego Bay. The growth in the industry can be attributed to the air transport programmes being pursued by the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) under the guidance and direction of the Ministry of Transport and Works. This growth potential was recently boosted in a very significant way with the resounding success of the recent International Civil Association (ICAO) Conference for Air Service Negotiations (ICAN) in Montego Bay. This outcome represented the determination of the Ministry to build on Jamaica’s very favourable global position both from a maritime and aviation perspective.
ICAN, or JAMAICAN, as it was dubbed, saved the country a lot of money that would normally be paid for delegations to travel to the various countries individually, to negotiate air services agreements. And from the outcome of the conference, Jamaica is now well placed to deliver much more extensively on its global aviation potential, including becoming an international aviation hub.CONCLUSION:
Amidst the successes, I am certainly mindful of the many challenges ahead for the Ministry. But I am buoyed by the successes as we continue to rescue the country from the vortex of decline into which it had descended for so long. I am also inspired by the people’s appreciation of the work being done, and their continued patience, understanding and appreciation of our commitment to make sure the rate of progress is not slackened, but intensified, in our continued focus on the now pivotal 1-3-5-7-year policy direction that is guiding the Ministry of Transport and Works.
I conclude with the phrase of the day: ‘Promises made, promises delivered.”
Thank you all for being here today. Supporting Doc…
THANKS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: