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Gov't, Chinese close in on Goat Islands deal

Published:Wednesday | February 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Dr Omar Davies

THE PORT Authority of Jamaica and China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC) have arrived at an initial framework agreement setting out the terms and conditions under which discussions on the development of a logistics hub and major industrial park will proceed.

The Port Authority has been charged with responsibility for the development and implementation of this project.

Transport, Works and Housing Minister Dr Omar Davies outlined some critical steps that will ultimately lead to the signing of a binding agreement with the Chinese company.

In a statement yesterday to the House of Representatives, Davies provided details on the elements of the multimillion US-dollar investment, which is expected to create 2,000 jobs during its construction phase and 10,000 jobs at the end of the project.

Davies made it clear that CHEC was not begging Jamaica to develop its facility here, but noted that other countries in the region were knocking at the door of the Chinese company seeking to woo them to invest there.

LARGE PROJECT

The transport minister told his parliamentary colleagues that the development was a large greenfield project, which would be implemented in phases.

It will begin with the development of an industrial park, which will facilitate the storage, assembling and packaging of goods in light industries, heavy industry manufacturing, information technology, and skills training. Work will also get under way to develop infrastructure such as bridges, roads, pipelines and water storage facilities, among others.

The construction and development of the portside logistics zone close to the port to include warehouses will also be done.

The Urban Development Corporation and Agro Investments Corporation, the owners of the properties under consideration, have given CHEC the green light to enter the area to conduct geotechnical investigations and engineering surveys in order to determine the feasibility of the project.

The technical feasibility study is set for completion by April 2014. Following this, the preliminary designs for the first phase of the project will begin and are expected to be completed by the end of June, 2014.

At the end of this exercise, CHEC will make a presentation to the National Environment and Planning Agency to seek the terms of reference for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the project.

"I must emphasise that it is only after the completion of the EIA that the project will be ready to be submitted to Cabinet for a decision," Davies assured lawmakers.

In the first phase:

CHEC will carry out dredging and land-reclamation activities to create the port on Goat Islands and suitable access channels to get there.

There will be construction and development of a container terminal with modern technology, fittings and services.