Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller signed a two-year cooperation agreement with the Chairman of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), Mr. Zhou Jichang, for undertaking exploration of infrastructuredevelopment projects in Jamaica.

In her remarks at the signing at Jamaica House on Saturday (July 21), the Prime Minister said that “projects which will flow from this agreement must bring mutual economic benefit, deliver value for money and improve the social well-being and the standard of living of our people”.

Under the agreement China Communications Construction Company will identify and propose projects for the modernization, enhancement and development of Jamaica’s infrastructure, including the construction of roads, bridges, ports, waterways, shipping facilities, light railways systems for both cargo and passengers, hotels, housing education and recreational facilities. The Prime Minister affirmed that it was not a contract that was being signed but an agreement for CCCC to propose projects to be implemented which would first have to be approved by Cabinet and the relevant agencies of government. The agreement also requires that for each infrastructure development project proposed, information must also be provided as to the financing options, source of funding and indicative terms and conditions.

CCCC is the state-owned parent company of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), which currently has four projects in Jamaica, namely the Rio Grande Bridge which is expected to be completed next month; the Christiana Development Road which has been completed within budget; the Westmoreland Bridge in St Mary which is 25% complete and the Palisadoes Shoreline Project that is due for completion in December.

China Harbour is also constructing the US$600 million North South Link of Highway 2000 from Caymanas in St Catherine to Ocho Rios in St Ann, due to commence later this year. Another project mentioned by the Prime Minister under co-operation with the Chinese is in the area of housing under the Jamaica Economic Housing project which will provide some 3,500 housing units in St Ann and ST Elizabeth, making it the largest project of its kind to be undertaken since the construction of Greater Portmore in the early 1990s. This project estimated atUS$71 million is being financed through the EXIM Bank of China