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The St. Thomas leg of the Government’s multi-billion dollar Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) was launched on Wednesday (September 1), during a ceremony at the Paul Bogle Round-a-Bout, Morant Bay.
The US$400 million ($36 billion) project, being financed by the governments of Jamaica and China, will see major rehabilitation of major and parochial roads, as well as the construction and repair of bridges, drains and attendant features. The project is being spearheaded by China Harbour Engineering Limited (Jamaica).
Speaking at Wednesday’s launch, Transport and Works Minister, Hon. Mike Henry, said some of the areas earmarked for rehabilitation and construction works include: Middleton, Lloyds, Springfield, Stewart Mountain, Johnson River and Morant River. Bridges at Johnson River and Eleven Miles are also among those listed for rehabilitation.
Mr. Henry advised that overall work under Phase1 of the project, being undertaken at a cost of some US$60 million, is expected to be completed by March 31, 2011. Phase II is slated to start on April 1, 2011, and is expected to cost some US$120 million.
Chief Executive Officer of the National Works Agency (NWA), Patrick Wong, advised that box culverts would be constructed at Johnson River and the fording at Eleven Miles, to ensure that, in the event of the adjacent river being in spate and flowing over onto the roadway, traffic flow along the thoroughfares will not be interrupted.
“We recognize that the demographics are changing. The population is increasing, particularly in the urban centres. This leads to longer distance commuting and a reliance on car-based transport. The average distance travelled on our roads has increased (and) this has placed increased pressure on our road infrastructure,” Mr. Wong said.
He stated that, very soon, “it will be impossible to travel any significant distance” in St. Thomas, without coming into contact with a major road rehabilitation project under the programme.
“And soon, thereafter, it will also be impossible to travel any significant distance in your parish without benefitting from a major project that has been completed. Whether it is river training, retaining walls, Parish Council roads rehabilitation, housing scheme roads rehabilitation, farms roads, (or) main roads; you will see it, you will experience it,” Mr. Wong assured.