Reduced toll rates on cards at Treadways
Jamaicans are being promised a reduction in rates at the Treadways Toll Plaza in Linstead, St Catherine, as China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) races to meet its February 2016 deadline to complete construction of 61 kilometres of roadway from St Catherine into St Ann.
Transport, Works and Housing Minister Dr Omar Davies yesterday made the disclosure during a tour of the US$600-million project, even as Ivan Anderson, managing director of the National Road Operating and Constructing Company, disclosed that the reduction, which is being computed, could take effect in as early as a week.
Jamaicans have also been promised not only the use of the spanking-new highway by March 2016, but likely reduced toll costs, as motorists are to be charged depending on where they access the highway.
Led by Yang Qiwu, CHEC deputy general manager, American Division, CHEC spent yesterday showcasing the wonders of Chinese engineering that carved long stretches of roadways through mountainous terrain, over comparatively short periods.
The Chinese engineers have also signalled that their work would not spoil the picturesque vista of mountains on one side and valleys on the other.
Davies dismissed suggestions that the swift pace being adopted by CHEC was influenced by the impending election.
"As is their style, they have been moving swiftly but with due care. Just look at the finished product," he said.
Davies disclosed that CHEC has established a special-purpose vehicle as the developer for the project.
"Apart from providing it with the normal incentives for the development, the only contribution of the Government is the provision of 1,200 acres of land," he said.
Davies suggested that no calculation could bring about a breakeven situation, given the more than US$600 million that have been invested by CHEC.
"In order to sweeten the pot, we offered them 1,200 acres of land for their own development purposes," he said.
He disclosed that the Chinese would be developing plans for 4,000 hotel rooms right across from the 'Water Wheels' in Mammee Bay.
"This project is obviously a major plus to the infrastructure of Jamaica," he said.
Davies revealed that arrangements are being made for a plaza to be erected in the area that will accommodate, among other things, a supermarket, gas stations, as well as about a dozen of the vendors at the Faith's Pen landmark locale.
Added Davies: "It will reduce traffic time for motorists from Caymanas to a normal drive of 45 minutes [to Mammee Bay], if you abide by the speed limit, and transform what was the uncertainty of two hours and more."
He continued: "It opens up a range of possibilities for development of housing as one could easily live in Ocho Rios and work in Kingston."
Anderson told Davies that while a few delays have forced some setbacks, the North-South Highway would be completed within the first quarter of 2016.
It was also established that by next month, residents of Angels in St Catherine will be able to access the highway.