No favours for Chinese on highway project, says J’ca PM

KINGSTON — Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller says China Harbour Engineering Company, the contractor of the North-South link of Highway 2000, will not be granted any special favours.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller shares a light moment with Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China His Excellency Zheng Qingdian at the launch of segment two of the Highway 2000 project at the Treadways Toll Plaza in St Catherine.

Simpson Miller was speaking yesterday at the launch of segment two of the highway project — which will comprise 15 kilometres of roadway linking Linstead in St. Catherine and Moneague in St. Ann — at the Treadways Toll Plaza in St. Catherine.

“There will be no special concession granted in terms of adherence to the regulatory agencies. There is no negative attached to this project,” Simpson Miller said.

The highway will be built at a cost of US$600 million over a three-year period, and will link Kingston to the North Coast by bypassing the treacherous Mount Rosser main road.

The project will be completely funded by CHEC, which will also reimburse the Jamaican Government a total of US$130 million for the incomplete Mount Rosser bypass in St. Catherine.

“The Government of Jamaica will make available 1,200 acres along the toll road for housing, commercial developments and hotels. An investment of this magnitude must be seen as a signal that a foreign company has put down roots in Jamaica. This project ranks among the most important projects in Jamaica’s history,” the prime minister said.

The Linstead to Moneague segment of the highway is scheduled to be completed in March 2014, while the entire project is slated to be complete by December 2015.

The highway will be a four-lane dual carriageway and will feature toll plazas and service areas. It will bypass the historic flat bridge in the Bog Walk Gorge which is known to be prone to flooding when the Rio Cobre is in spate, and has been the site of fatal accidents over the years.

The highway will also bypass the environmentally degraded Fern Gully and is expected to reduce the travel time between the capital city of Kingston to Ocho Rios to less than an hour. At present trucks and heavy duty vehicles are barred from travelling through Fern Gully as fuel emissions have seriously affected the 600 varieties of ferns that grow there. (Observer)

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