A Ministerial Delegation led by Transport and Works Minister, Hon. L. Michael Henry, visited the Far East between May 23 and June 7, 2009.  The trip was aimed at exploring technical options and opportunities available inSingapore, forging a number of arrangements in respect of transport and works-related operations locally, and viewing best practices with a view of improving the local portfolio operations. The visit to China involved follow-up discussions in respect of a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by a Chinese delegation that visitedJamaica in May 2009.

The Jamaican delegation was comprised of representatives from the ministry, including Permanent Secretary, Dr. Alwin Hales, technical personnel, a representative each of the National Works Agency (NWA), the National Road Operating and Constructing Company (NROCC), The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), the Caribbean Maritime Institute, along with private sector representatives from Caribbean Aerospace College and YP Seaton and Associates.

A major component of the travel cost of the government officials in the delegation was borne by the Chinese, while the private sector representatives paid for their travel and accommodation.

Among the substantive matters relative to the visit to Singapore were the following:

1)      Negotiations on a Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Singapore and Jamaica.

2)      A visit to the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Institute from where engineering courses to be offered by the Jamaican-based Caribbean Aerospace College will originate.

3)      Attending the graduation ceremony for four Jamaican Aircraft Mechanics who were awarded certificates for completing the Aircraft Maintenance Instructors’ Course at the Air Transport Training College in Singapore.

4)      Negotiations with Asia Charter and Cargo Consultancy PLC, which has expressed interest in establishing air services between Singapore and Kingston, with Before Point in China, Intermediate Point in Africa or Europe, and Beyond Point as necessary to return to Singapore, as soon as possible, but definitely before the staging of the Singapore Youth Olympics in August 2010. The realisation of the Singapore air services agreement mentioned above is the critical hurdle to be overcome in respect of the Asia Charter air service plans. A Cabinet Submission for the Government of Jamaica to formally enter into negotiations with the Government of Singapore to secure a Bilateral Open Skies Air Service Agreement, is now being prepared.

5)      A close-up examination of Singapore’s liberal air services regime, in which Bilateral Open Skies Air Services Agreements are signed with as many states as possible, with appropriate Rights of Freedom where possible. No steps are taken to protect Singapore Airline in such negotiations, a policy which was said to have ensured that the airline has become more efficient in its operations, in order to compete with others in the market, and at the same time, created opportunities for the national airline under reciprocal arrangements allowed under the open skies air services agreements. This policy has also contributed to the aerospace industry becoming a major industry inSingapore.

6)      A close-up tour and examination of the facilities, best practices and general strategies of Changi International Airport in Singapore, which has repeatedly been voted the world’s top performing airport.

7)      A visit to the Civil Aviation Academy Singapore, which offers courses in Aviation from the basic level in most aviation trades, up to the levels of Senior Executives in Aviation Management and Administration, with many of the courses being offered through fellowships from the Government of Singapore. Also observed were state-of-the-art training facilities and simulators for Air Traffic Control and Crash Fire Rescue courses.

8)      A visit to CERTIS CISCO Securities, the organisation responsible for Aviation Security and many other security functions throughout Singapore. There, practical simulations as well as computer-based training were outlined in sensitive security areas like Threat Image Projections and training techniques which skillfully blend customer service duties with security screening of passengers, something which was considered quite relevant to airport and cruise passenger operations, especially in light of he recent hijacking attempt at Sangster International Airport.

9)      The Jamaican delegation attended the opening ceremony of the Singapore Aerospace Suppliers Exchange Expo 2009, where a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Caribbean Aerospace College and the Air Transport Training College (ATTC), for the use of ATTC curriculum to train aircraft maintenance technicians inJamaica.

10)  The delegation also received presentations from numerous other Singaporean firms, including Startech Systems Limited, which offers localised radar systems for detecting runway foreign object debris (FOD) as a means of preventing undesirable runway incidents.

11)  The Jamaican delegation also participated in the opening of the Jamaican Trade Consulate in Singapore, which opens the door to opportunities for trade in goods and services between the two states, as well as the wider East Asian region. One critical component of that thrust will be the building of a runway in Jamaica that is long enough to allow for the take-off of long-haul aircraft at maximum gross take-off weight.

12)  Discussions with Port of Singapore Authority (PSA), a commercial arm of the Singaporean Government, which manages ports in that country, and has done so globally. The purpose of the visit was to signal to PSA, Jamaica’s desire to explore the possibility of having PSA manage ports n Jamaica.

13)  Discussions with Hong Leong Holdings Limited, which has interest in hotel development in Jamaica, including both the traditional tourist areas and in downtown Kingston.

14)  The Jamaican Delegation visited IE Singapore to learn about business partnership opportunities betweenSingapore and Jamaica. It benefited from presentations on how Singaporean entities and agencies add value to the country’s industries and strategically export expertise, both public and private, via initiatives like training programmes, visit programmes, advisory services and project implementation.

15)  Discussions with Australia-Singapore Technical Education (ASTE), a private company which is interested in establishing a construction college in Jamaica. The ASTE has an exclusive contract with the Australian Government to use its technical training material to start construction training schools in other countries. A business plan was presented by ASTE, which would provide opportunities for both entry level and highly skilled carpenters, tradesmen, plumbers, electrician, builders etc. to be trained or to upgrade their skills through the college.

16)  Successful discussions for Denbigh High School and Edwin Allen High School, both in Clarendon, Jamaica, to be twinned with Bedok View Secondary School in Singapore, as part of the activities leading up to the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games in August 2010.

17)  Discussions with ST Electronics for the provision of simulators for the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) under favourable financial arrangements which are being brokered by the Jamaican Trade Consulate in Singapore.

In China, the Jamaican delegation held meetings with, among others, the Vice Minister of Transport; the Vice Minister of Commerce; the management of the Export-Import Bank; and also visited both the Donghai Sea-Crossing Bridge and the Yangshan Deep Water Port.

Among the discussion held with the Chinese authorities was the matter of funding for aspects of the north-south legs of the Highway 2000 network, and the proposed engagement of China Harbour Engineering (CHEC) to implement the Spanish Town to Linstead segment of the highway. There were also discussions relating to additional funding for the Palisadoes Shoreline Protection project in Eastern Kingston. This followed the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in Jamaica in May 2009, between the Jamaican and Chinese governments, in respect of the NROCC and NWA projects.