Development of the North-South Link of Highway 2000 will officially begin in January 2013, with the resumption of work on the Mount Rosser Bypass in St. Catherine.
The entire development, spanning some 66 kilometeres between Caymanas in St. Catherine and Ocho Rios, St. Ann, is being undertaken by Chinese firm, China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC), at a cost of some US$610 million.
The work will be done over a 36-month period, between January 2013 and December 2015.
The project, to be undertaken in three phases, will see work being executed on the Mount Rosser Bypass second leg, between the Linstead, St. Catherine and Moneague, St. Ann, over a 14-month period between January 2013 and March 2014. Initial work on this leg was undertaken by French construction company, Bouygues Travaux. This phase, was, however, stalled due to several challenges arising.
Activities on the first leg between Caymanas and Linstead, and the third leg, between Moneague and Ocho Rios, are scheduled to get underway in May and June 2013, respectively.
At a ceremony to mark the official commencement of the North-South project held on Dec. 5, at the Treadways toll plaza in St. Catherine, Prime Minister, the Most Hon Portia Simpson Miller, said the development is one of the most significant and important to be undertaken in Jamaica.
"This project represents a major investment in Jamaica. An investment of this magnitude must be seen as a positive signal that a foreign a company has sought to put down roots in Jamaica,” the Prime Minister said, while thanking Bouygues for their input in developing the Mount Rosser Bypass.
In his remarks, Transport, Works and Housing Minister, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, pointed out that the project is being funded as capital investment by CHEC, with no input from the Government.
He also advised that the necessary regulatory requirements had been secured for the Mount Rosser Bypass, adding that similar engagements for the other two legs will be acquired.
"We (Government) intend to discharge our responsibilities on time to ensure that this project is completed. I am (holding CHEC to) that December 2013 deadline (for) the completion of this (Mount Rosser Bypass) leg, and…December 2015, (for) the completion of the other legs,” Dr. Davies said.
In his remarks, Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness, in welcoming CHEC’s input, noted that it represents the timely injection of foreign direct investment.
“This is significant at this time, given our lack of fiscal space to participate in such an investment. These are the types of capital infrastructural projects that should be encouraged, especially at this time. It is through this type of partnership between Jamaica and China…that our economy will grow and thereby provide… a better quality of life for Jamaicans,” Mr. Holness said.
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Jamaica, His Excellency Zheng Qingdian, who also addressed the ceremony, pointed out that the North-South project represents the single largest Chinese investment in Jamaica over the 40 years of diplomatic relations between the countries. He also assured that, based on its credible reputation, CHEC would deliver a project of high quality within the stipulated timeframe.
The North-South project will include: a four-lane dual carriageway, toll plazas; a service area; and commercial and residential developments, including; a business park, entertainment facilities, housing, and hotels. The government is providing approximately 1200 acres of land for the commercial and residential developments.
In addition to the US$610 million capital injection, CHEC will reimburse the Government of Jamaica some US$120 million for expenditures, to date, on the Mount Rosser Bypass.
Dr. Davies, in a statement to Parliament in April, indicated that the North-South Highway was one of three major infrastructure works projects for implementation by the Government, which are deemed critical to Jamaica’s future development. The others are: development of the global transshipment and logistics hub; and the Fort Augusta Terminal.
Dr. Davies said these projects are considered to be of strategic importance to the development of the Jamaican economy, particularly after the opening of the widened Panama Canal in 2015.