A Concession and Implementation Agreement concerning the construction of the North/South link of Highway 2000 was signed yesterday at the Office of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing.
The corridor which will run from Caymanas to Ocho Rios is expected to bypass the problematic areas of the Bog Walk Gorge, the existing Mount Rosser road as well as Fern Gully. In terms of the alignment, the corridor is expected to commence at Mandela Highway at its intersection with Caymanas and pass east of Spanish Town to Dam Head/Angels in St. Catherine. It will continue from Angels with the Bog Walk Bypass to Bog Walk; this section will see the Highway bypassing the towns of Bog Walk, Linstead, moving west where it will re-connect with the existing Linstead Bypass at the start of the new Mount Rosser Bypass. From there, it will move on to Moneague, then on to Ocho Rios, just west of Dunn’s River.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Works Minister, Dr. the Hon Omar Davies noted that Highway 200 spanned both political administrations and in that respect viewed that as a ‘unifying national element’. He said he was particularly appreciative of the support from the Opposition in terms of the Highway 2000 Project in general and more specifically the new North/South leg that is scheduled to come on stream. He assured special interest environmental groups that all environmental requirements would be observed.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips said that this new leg of the Highway 2000 is critical to the country’s development. He said that the north/south link would assist in attracting more investment to Jamaica and pledged his commitment to exploring other creative solutions in dealing with the country’s challenges, even with the limited resources available.
For his part, Opposition spokesman on Transport and Works, Mr. Karl Samuda said that he endorsed and supported the new leg of the Highway. He explained that he was pleased to see that the Project had been continued and that he was sure that it would make a significant positive difference in the lives of those it would impact.
Senior VP, China Harbour Communications, Mr. Chen Zhong speaking on behalf of the Developers, China Harbour Engineering and Construction Company (CHEC) pledged to do ‘high quality work and provide good maintenance’ on the Project. ‘I hope that this is the beginning of a good relationship with Jamaica,’ he added.
The North/South Link is expected to cost US$600M and will be financed by Loans from China Development and from equity provided by CHEC. It will be a 4 lane Highway similar to the existing Highway with all grade separated Interchanges; construction is scheduled to cover a three year period.
The Government of Jamaica will not make any financial investment in the Project, neither will it provide any loan guarantees, revenue guarantees or traffic guarantees for the Project.