Mon | Sep 27, 2021

China Harbour monopoly

Published:Thursday | February 28, 2019 | 12:00 AM


China Harbour (CH) has too strong a foothold in Jamaica. Dozens of roads, highways, and buildings have been built by CH over the past six or more years, and new ones seem to pop up every other day.

While China Harbour has cemented its reputation as a reliable, cost-conscious company, the trillion-dollar question is, at what cost is this being done in relation to local contractors? At one time, road contractors like YP Seaton and construction companies like Ashtrom were household names on Jamaica’s ever-groundbreaking construction landscape. Now, they seem to have become as sought after as a stray dollar coin on the sidewalk.

While saving money is important for the country and for companies, what will happen to local contractors over the medium to long term due to the monumental impact on and influence China Harbour is having on Jamaica’s construction industry? I suspect that many local construction companies have had to downsize or close down due to the latter.

China Harbour, by no fault of its own, has gradually been monopolising Jamaica’s construction industry, having constructed not only the nation’s new superhighways and many big buildings, including GraceKennedy’s new corporate building, but will also be given the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity, by the Government, to construct the new parliament building.

While China Harbour is busy building Jamaica, and growing its empire, the lives and livelihoods of local contractors, their respective companies, and their employees, I suspect, are dwindling faster than the polar ice caps. Something has to give.

Patrick Gallimore