By Andrew Green, Staff Reporter
CONSTRUCTION OF the Highway 2000 project is slated to begin in November, but some key elements of the projects are already underway, says Development Bank of Jamaica managing director Kingsley Thomas.
The preferred bidder for the US$390 million first phase of the project is the French firm Bouygues, the government announced in June. But the Jamaican government is also providing some elements to the project.
"Over 90 per cent of the property required for the first phase of the project has already been acquired," Mr. Thomas told Wednesday Business. He was speaking in an interview following a presentation to key members of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica,(PSOJ) at the organisation's headquarters in Kingston last week, Thursday.
The complete project involves the construction of a multilane toll highway linking Kingston to Montego Bay and includes a branch from St. Catherine leading to Ocho Rios. The first phase of the project is for a 72 kilometre section linking Kingston with Williamsfield in Manchester.
"Eighty-five per cent of the land for phase one was already under Government control," he said. "There are only pockets remaining to be acquired."
"We are following the railway corridor," Mr. Thomas said. The Jamaica Railway Corporation has a corridor for its lines from Kingston to Montego Bay and the highway will follow some of this route to Williamsfield.
Additionally the highway project will incorporate elements of the 14.5 kilometre Old Harbour bypass road project, running from Bushy Park in St. Catherine to Sandy Bay, Clarendon. This $1.2 billion (about US$30 million) project, announced in 1999 was to have been Jamaica's first toll road.
Minister of Transport and Works, Dr. Peter Phillips, announced at the start of the Old Harbour project that the two-lane arterial roadway was to have been completed in two years. It was being funded by the Government of Jamaica and the Kuwaiti Fund.
Dr. Phillips noted then that although only two lanes were to be constructed, land had been reserved for an additional two lanes to be built in the future.
The land and infrastructure already built will form part of Jamaica's contribution to the project, public relations manager for the Highway 2000 project, Gladstone Wilson told Wednesday Business.
Bouygues will provide US$283 million of the total project cost, Mr. Thomas stated. Jamaica will contribute US$107 million
The Highway 2000 project will be operated on a 35 year concession by the contractors, allowing them to recover their costs through toll revenues.