Sun | Apr 21, 2019

South Coast Highway works to begin shortly, says PM

Published:Friday | March 22, 2019 | 12:23 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Actual construction work on the South Coast Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP) is slated to begin soon, says Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

In his contribution to the Budget Debate in Parliament on Tuesday, Holness told the nation that design work, land acquisition and interagency coordination, particularly between the National Works Agency and the National Water Commission, is far advanced.

The project is part of Government’s strategic development plan for the unlocking of the growth prospects on the south coast by connecting Negril, Westmoreland, to Port Antonio, Portland, via a modern highway system.

“Mr Speaker, the people of St Thomas and adjacent parishes need not suffer much longer. After decades of neglect, it is this Government that will give them the roads and infrastructure they deserve. In building a new Jamaica, every corner of Jamaica, from the east to the west, will get a blessing,” said Holness.

WELCOME CHANGE

He said that the need for improvements on the corridors is based on a combination of safety, existing physical and functional deficiencies, and overall capacity.

The redevelopment of the roadways is a welcome change for residents and motorists along that stretch, who, up to recently, had to manoeuvre some tight corners, badly eroded road surfaces, and flooding in sections.

Holness said the construction of this highway network will enable easier travel around the island, facilitate sustainable utilisation of existing natural resources, and provide for the future development of the island’s tourism economy.

The Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project entails construction of a 16km, four-lane highway with safety barriers from Harbour View to Yallahs, which is to be undertaken by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) at US$110m.

Rehabilitation of 96km of road from Yallahs Bridge in St Thomas to Port Antonio in eastern Portland, along the existing road alignment, is expected to reduce corners, improve safety, and open up access to lands, which may be of touristic value.

“This work will be administered by the National Works Agency (NWA) and executed by local contractors under subcontract from CHEC at US$74 million,” stated Holness.

In addition, rehabilitation of 26km of roads from Morant Bay to Cedar Valley will be administered by the NWA and executed by local contractors under subcontract from CHEC at a value of US$11.4 million.

Further, he said that the extension of the East-West Toll Road from May Pen to Williamsfield, just outside Mandeville, will cost US$188.5 million.

Construction activities will include pavement, retaining walls, earthworks, drainage structures, and the construction and rehabilitation of bridges. Where necessary, upgrading of NWC waterlines will be undertaken.

Holness pointed out that each work package is expected to have a duration of 14 months. The total life of the project is expected to be 36 months.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com