Wed | Nov 13, 2019

Time come! - South coast highway project goes to tender this week

Published:Monday | February 18, 2019 | 2:08 AM
File Daryl Vaz

Five subcontracts valued at more than US$22 million are to go to tender this week for roadworks in St Thomas and Portland, according to government minister Daryl Vaz. This follows the allocation of more than J$8.4 billion in the 2019-2020 Budget.

The Government made the allocation to fund its ambitious plan to rehabilitate more than 100 kilometres of roadways across the eastern end of the island.

This represents the South Coast Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP), which has been in the pipeline for some time now.

A subcontractor is to be selected by mid-March.

Further, Vaz said work on the proposed highway from Harbour View in St Andrew, to Yallahs in St Thomas, is set to commence by year end.

“CHEC (the main contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company) will complete the design work for the highway, which will take approximately six months. So [construction of] that highway will start by the end of this year,” Vaz told The Gleaner.

In recent months, residents in several communities across St Thomas have staged a series of protest action to draw attention to the poor road conditions in the parish. The announcement by Vaz could be welcome news for residents and business operators who saw the SCHIP derailed last year after $3.1 billion was slashed from the $3.6 billion allocated by the Government.

Vaz conceded that for decades infrastructure development has eluded St Thomas and Portland, but insisted that SCHIP will be a “game-changer” for both parishes.

“The people have been more than patient. I’m committing, on behalf of the Andrew Holness Government, that eastern Jamaica, St Thomas, and Portland, will feel the prosperity of the new Jamaica,” said Vaz, who is also minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

He explained, too, that the SCHIP was delayed last year because of “protracted negotiations” with China Exim Bank and Jamaica’s finance ministry. “China Exim changed the terms and conditions of the previous loan agreement,” Vaz explained.

Four of the five subcontracts set to go to tender next week are for the roadways between Morant Bay and Serge Island, valued at US$5.1 million; Serge Island and Cedar Valley, valued at US$5.5 million; Morant Bay and Prospect, valued at US$4.8 million; and Hordley and Long Road, valued at US$2.3 million, all in St Thomas.

The other subcontract is for the strip of road between Manchioneal and Fair Prospect in Portland, valued at US$5.1 million.

According to Vaz, they are among 15 “road packages” between St Thomas and Portland that are to be subcontracted by CHEC to local contractors.

The remaining subcontracts, he said, could be awarded into the next fiscal year.