Tue | Jan 15, 2019

Give Mike Henry the credit he's due

Published:Friday | August 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM


The celebration of the opening of the Mt Rosser bypass should not ignore the significant role played by Mike Henry in redeeming a project that had become an engineering calamity and financial nightmare.

Launched by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller shortly before the 2007 elections, the project ran into major geotechnical challenges because of poor and, perhaps, hurried design. The Government incurred additional costs of US$27 million to rectify that problem only to discover a more serious engineering difficulty at the Mulloch section of the route. The contract with Bouygues indemnified it from any costs or delays arising from faulty design.

Credit is due to Mike Henry, who, having negotiated with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) to undertake the rest of the north-south link from Spanish Town to Ocho Rios, persuaded that firm to take over the failed Mt Rosser section. China Harbour would finance all of these undertakings as an investment to be recovered by way of toll charges and would repay the Government for the expenditure it had incurred on Mt Rosser.

Mike Henry is also to be credited for having introduced China Harbour to Jamaica with the reconstruction of the Palisadoes road. CHEC was subsequently involved in executing the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP), which Mike also initiated.

China Harbour's engagement in Jamaica is significant. Prior to 2011, all of the projects in which China was involved (Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium, Montego Bay Convention Centre, Palisadoes Road, JDIP) came by way of loans to the Jamaican Government. When I visited China in 2009, although it was possible to secure huge additional loans, I explained to the Chinese government that because of our heavy debt burden, we were more interested in securing long-term investments in Jamaica's development. The entry into the highway programme of China Harbour, which is fully owned by the government of China, is a product of that effort. Its engagement on the Goat Islands project would be a major addition.

Jamaica's modern highway programme was initiated under Mr P.J. Patterson and is being continued under Mrs Simpson Miller. However, Mike Henry's role in not only rescuing the Mt Rosser project, but radically changing the way these highways are to be financed, with minimal cost to the Jamaican Government, must not be overlooked.


Former Prime Minister