Big bucks for 'smart city' - $6b needed for basic infrastructure in planned Bernard Lodge development
Basic infrastructure work for the planned Greater Bernard Lodge development in Portmore, St Catherine, is scheduled to get under way early next year, and Joseph Shoucair, who leads the enterprise team overseeing the project, is promising that this will be the start of the creation of the 'smart city'.
"We will start the implement-ation of limited infrastructure works in the first quarter of the new year. We will start with the drainage works," Shoucair told The Sunday Gleaner.
"What we will be doing in the first quarter is concentrating on identifying and starting to lay out the drainage in the master plan area. That has to be done before the internal road, that new corridor, is constructed.
"That's where our focus is, to tie up with the National Water Commission (NWC) and the National Works Agency (NWA) the infrastructure costs. In the meantime, we are also titling the whole area into blocks," said Shoucair, who is also chairman of SCJ Holdings Limited.
While the numbers have not been finalised, preliminary figures seen by The Sunday Gleaner in the first interim report of the enterprise team indicate that US$45.7 million (J$5.85 billion) will be needed to put in roads, potable water, sewerage, electricity, and drains.
A breakdown of the numbers shows an estimated US$15 million allocated to the NWA for work on the main boulevard that will traverse the development area and other road improvements.
A further US$9.35 million is budgeted for the NWC to provide potable water and US$20.78 million for sewerage.
The Jamaica Public Service is to get an estimated US$268,000 to install electricity in the area but that would jump to US$1.84 million if the lines are installed underground, which Shoucair said is the direction in which the enterprise team is looking.
According to Shoucair, if the cost doesn't prove to be prohibitive, gas, cable, and electrical cables will all also be installed underground.
The draft report of the enterprise team reveals that the law firm Dunn Cox has been retained and instructed, and "has commenced the process of having the development master plan area declared as a housing area under the Housing Act".
This is in an effort to expedite the approval and implementation of the project, which includes the construction of 17,000 houses.
According to Daryl Vaz, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, because the master plan has been done, the approval process will be much swifter.
"Once we go out for expressions of interest specific to the development areas that we are divesting and we look at it, the enterprise team will be in a position to decide on the best proposals for the particular areas," said Vaz.
He added that the Government will be transparent with the current residents of Portmore regarding the development and how it will affect them, as well as with the wider society.