Thu | Feb 27, 2020

Coronavirus won’t affect highway projects, says CHEC

Published:Saturday | February 15, 2020 | 12:19 AM

The long-awaited Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project and other major construction work currently being undertaken by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Jamaica will not be adversely affected by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in mainland China.

CHEC Jamaica Country Manager Dangran Bi said work on the highway has actually begun, with the site offices for the various sections being constructed and work being done to clear sections of the roadway.

A travel ban has been issued by the Ministry of Health & Wellness for travellers from the Asian country following the outbreak of the virus, which has since claimed 1,400 lives.

“As a company, we are definitely watching with great seriousness the developments surrounding the coronavirus outbreak currently affecting sections of China.

“However, it is important to note that this outbreak and the travel restrictions have not and will not negatively affect our current and upcoming projects, as we already have the staff complement here in Jamaica to be able to operate at full capacity,” Dangran said.

EXPECTED EMPLOYMENT

Ground was broken for the multibillion-dollar Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project November last year. The project will involve the rehabilitation of approximately 110 kilometres of roadway between Harbour View in St Andrew and Port Antonio in Portland, and the 26-kilometre thoroughfare from Morant Bay to Cedar Valley in St Thomas. The CHEC boss said over its lifetime, the project is expected to employ more than 350 employees, with more than 80 per cent expected to be Jamaicans.

CHEC also intends to construct more than 1,600 homes at Catherine Estates, the Morant Bay Urban Development Centre, and the Kingston Freeport Logistics Hub currently under construction. Expansion work will also be undertaken at the Norman Manley International Airport.

“We did have a very small handful of staff members who returned to China to celebrate the Chinese New Year and who have now been affected by the travel restrictions. However, we have identified ways for them to work remotely and this will not affect any of our current projects,” Dangran said.

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