CHEC confident of economic boost when North-South Highway opens
Persons who live close to the North-South leg of Highway 2000 should see an economic boom when the work is finally done by middle of next year, according to the company constructing the roadway.
China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) said while it is aware of the complaints by some residents who live close to the highway, it expects there will be a major economic boost to the communities and investors who choose to take advantage of it.
Construction on the Caymanas to Bog Walk section of the highway was delayed after residents of Caymanas Country Club Estate voiced concerns over the path of the roadway, claiming that it would be too close to their homes.
However, Shanna Garrick, human resource manager of Section Three of the highway, which stretches from Moneague to Mammee Bay in St Ann, argued that the response from residents in Lydford, St Ann, was completely opposite.
"Right now, people in that community are excited about the highway because this is an underdeveloped community, so when a major development like the North-South Highway touches it, it can lead to a number of economic benefits residents may not have seen before," said Garrick, as she pointed to the appreciation in the value of real estate in the hillside community.
"One of those benefits has been in real estate and the costs of rentals. A few months ago, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in this area was $8,000. Today, it's more than $15,000.
"There is also a rush to purchase land in this area, and so property owners are finding that lands which have sat idle for years, because of their proximity to the highway, are now in demand," added Garrick.
She was supported by Jin Fu Zhu, deputy project manager of the North-South Highway project.
He said CHEC was about to commence construction on a rest stop/shopping zone along the Linstead to Moneague leg of the highway, which should be another major economic driver for the area.
"Wherever you have a major highway development like this one, you are going to have investments and opportunities to invest. So as a part of the highway, we will be constructing a rest stop, ... complete with a gas station and 32 shops at either side of the roadway," said Zhu.
He noted that the shops at the rest stop would be a available to vendors who may have been adversely affected by the highway.
"The rest stop is an opportunity for motorists along the highway to stop and get something to eat, refresh themselves, before continuing along their journey. So far, we have only confirmed the gas station, but we are hoping that some major restaurant outlets such as KFC or Burger King will take advantage of the opportunity.
"We are also hoping that some of the food vendors at Faith's Pen will move over when the rest stop is complete."
Food vendors at Faith's Pen had aired concerns last year that their businesses would suffer with the opening of the highway.
But Zhu was adamant that the rest stop would be even more economically viable for those vendors.
"The highway is for everyone, so there is definitely going to be a place for those vendors and others to be part of the development. There will be some changes to what exists now, but the opportunity to make money is going to be there."