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CG urges Gov't to review Highway 2000 contract

Published:Wednesday | January 11, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Greg Christie

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

THE PORTIA Simpson Miller administration is being urged by Contractor General Greg Christie to review negotiations between the National Road Operating and Constructing Company Limited (NROCC) and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) for the construction of the Spanish Town to Ocho Rios leg of Highway 2000.

Christie, in a letter to Simpson Miller, said his office had objected to sole-source negotiations between NROCC and CHEC. He charged that his office had called for the termination of negotiations between the two entities during the reign of the Jamaica Labour Party administration.

He said the transaction should be subject to a transparent and international competitive bidding process to ensure value for money for the Jamaican taxpayer.

"The OCG is not only amazed, but alarmed, that the former JLP administration was seemingly bent on persisting in what would be another controversial sole-source contract award to CHEC, despite the fact of the ongoing public controversies, audits and OCG investigations which have arisen in consequence of a similar sole-source award of the US$400-million Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) Government of Jamaica contract, to the same company," he said.

Projected cost

The north-south link highway was projected to cost US$600 million with a proposal for the granting of a 50-year toll concession to CHEC.

Last year, managing director of NROCC, Ivan Anderson, told a parliamentary committee that CHEC had expressed an interest in the project.

He told the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee that a memorandum of understanding was signed in early 2011 with CHEC for a concession agreement.

The proposed arrangement was for CHEC to finance, design and construct the north-south link.

And Christie is also advising the new administration to review plans by the previous administration to separate the National Contracts Commission (NCC) from the OCG.

"The OCG fears that the separated NCC, and its support staff, will not be independent and will not be insulated from interference from external and political forces, since the requisite enabling institutional and legislative safeguards have not been established as was agreed," he added.

According to Christie, his office had forcefully documented its strong objections regarding the issue, but to no avail.

He said the rationale and objectives of the separation were highly questionable.