Sat | Apr 20, 2019

‘Roll out the cyaapet’ - Holness says legacy projects set for completion by summer

Published:Wednesday | March 20, 2019 | 12:24 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

The Government is seeking “competitive” sources of financing to undertake a proposed third infrastructure development initiative to succeed the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP), which was in its winding-up phase, to significantly improve aspects of Jamaica’s transportation network.

In his contribution to the Budget Debate yesterday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness pointed to more infrastructure work across several parishes and touted the massive steps taken to bring the network of roadways across the country up to First-World status.

“Mr Speaker, if you left the island two years ago and you plan to return summer coming, you may not recognise some parts of Jamaica. Things are happening right before your very eyes, and I want to thank the people of Jamaica for their patience as we move to complete several major road corridors, and we are going to start others. This will be the year of unveiling, or rather, the year we roll out the cyaapet (carpet),” Holness said to loud shouts and desk-banging from government MPs.

He said that while the scope of the new greater infrastructure development programme remains under discussion, it is anticipated that the size of the project would likely follow the framework established under MIDP.

“Mr Speaker, the projects selected for this second phase of major infrastructure development are based on technical recommendations, our economic development plan, and climate-smart considerations, such as our master drainage plan,” Holness said.

The Prime Minister also used the time to apologise to the public for inconvenience caused by the extensive roadworks across the Corporate Area being carried out by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) on Constant Spring and Hagley Park roads as part of the much-touted legacy projects.

“Contractually, the Hagley Park, Constant Spring and Ferris Cross to Mackfield road improvement projects are to be substantially completed by end June 2019,” Holness said, adding that the National Works Agency continues to pursue an aggressive construction schedule with the intention to fast-track those projects.

According to the prime minister, the MIDP is 90.9 per cent completed, based on financial spend, where approximately US$320.7 million of the US$352.9 million programme budget has been certified.

“Component one is 80 per cent complete. Component two is 99 per cent complete and component three is 93 per cent complete, while NWC ancillary works (which includes the installation of water pipelines and sewerage) are 81 per cent complete,” said Holness.

He said that improving the nation’s road infrastructure was critical for productivity and connectivity and for the building of a prosperous Jamaica.

Some of the projects being considered and planned under this phase of the infrastructure development programme include a proposal for a Ring Road around the Kingston Metropolitan Area inclusive of light rail, the extension of the Mandela Highway Improvement Works, from the East West toll road ramp to the Old Harbour roundabout, and improvements to the Half-Way Tree area.

Also under consideration is the construction of several bypasses to both improve travel time and create potential for expansion of several townships including bypasses at Lucea and Hopewell in Hanover, Annotto Bay in St Mary, Long Hill/Anchovy in St James, and Port Maria in St Mary. Drainage projects will be rolled out on Marcus Garvey Drive and Maxfield Avenue in the Corporate Area, in May Pen, Santa Cruz, Port Maria and Montego Bay. There will be various other storm-water drainage projects across the island.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com