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China Harbour Engineering Company not leaving Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | April 22, 2015 | 4:00 AM

China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) has indicated it will not be pulling out of Jamaica - at least so says Dr Omar Davies, the minister of works.

"Although they started their initiatives for the area in Jamaica, the reality is, this is a small economy. They are now dealing with projects to the value of $4-5 billion between Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, so logically, it doesn't make sense for them to have engineers, etc, here," Davies said as he made his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday.

China Harbour has confirmed that it was transferring major aspects of its infrastructure to Panama in Central America. CHEC opened a subregional office in Panama City in 2013, but says Jamaica is still its home base.

 

no such intention

 

Amid reports that the Chinese company is checking out of Jamaica, Davies said yesterday that he has spoken with CHEC's manager for the Caribbean, Central America and the Americas, who is based in Panama, on the matter and has been reassured that there is no such intention.

"He said that it would be strange winding down when CHEC is about to complete an apartment complex, when their plans to build 2,400 hotel rooms are being finalised, when they are working on plans for developing the rest of the land to be provided. Furthermore, they are seeking other opportunities for investment in the medium term and I speak confidently," Davies said.

"If this is the approach of a firm winding down operations, I think we need some more firms to wind down," he added.

There was, however, no mention of whether CHEC is anywhere closer to making a decision on whether it will be following through with plans to use the Goat Islands as a trans-shipment port as part of Jamaica's logistics hub.

CHEC is currently involved in the construction of the North-South leg of Highway 2000. Davies said the US$600 million being spent by CHEC on the project was by far the single-largest investment from which the country has benefited in decades.

Under a concession agreement with the Government, CHEC will be provided with approximately 1,200 acres of land contiguous to the highway for development.

"CHEC has already placed before us their plans for the development of the lands which they will receive. The proposed developments include, in the first instance, the construction of three hotels with nearly 2,400 rooms, as well as nearly 600 housing units," Davies said.

"In short, expenditure on the highway and the associated developments will be well in excess of US$1 billion, in the first instance," he added.