Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer
Port Antonio, Portland
After several lengthy delays, a contract was signed last Friday for the construction of a central water, drainage, and sewerage project for Portland by Minster of Water and the Environment, Robert Pickersgill at the Ken Wright Pier.
The contract is valued at $1.65 billion and was awarded to Vinci Construction Grands Projets out of France, which, according to Pickersgill, is the ideal construction company given its years of experience, professionalism, and ability to deliver work of the highest standard.
"Today Portlanders can smile," said Pickersgill. "This project is long in coming, but when we are talking about the provision of potable water, adequate sewage treatment, and drainage facility for the citizens of this country; I say 'better late than never'."
He added: "The availability of water plays a significant part in the ability of people to care for their family and to earn a living. This administration has placed a high priority on the provision of these services as outlined in our manifesto."
According to the minister, the awarding of such a contract to Vinci Construction was done on merit, as that construction company has done many projects for the Government of Jamaica in the past, which were of the highest standard.
Many stakeholders, including hotelier Davis Smith, are of the view that the expansion of water supply to rural communities will have significant benefits for Jamaica's economic and social development including the attraction of new businesses, increased employment, and reducing the health risk associated with the consumption of untreated water. The central water, drainage, and sewerage project has been on the books for more than 16 years, and was first brought to the fore by then Member of Parliament for East Portland, Sam Lawrence, who demitted office in 1998.
Timothee Delebaree, acting country manager of Vinci Construction Grands Projets, gave the assurance that the work will be carried out in a professional manner, and that great care would be taken not to inconvenience residents too much during the time of construction. However, one of the drawbacks to the project as outlined by the minister is pipelines, which have been in use for more than 40 years, which will have to be replaced so as to ensure that the project can be a success.
The minister added that he has every confidence that the project will be completed on time, and within the budget specified.