A ceremony to re-commence work on Segment 2 of the North-South Highway Project was held on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 in Treadways, St. Catherine.
The total length of the corridor is 66 kilometres and will run from Caymanas in St. Catherine to Ocho Rios in St. Ann. The corridor will consist of 4 lanes, a dual carriageway, Toll Plazas as well as a service area. Property developments along sections of the highway are expected to include a business park, entertainment facilities, hotel developments, housing etc.
With the completion of the corridor, travel time from the Caymanas area to Ocho Rios is expected to be drastically cut to about 50 minutes. The total construction period is expected to last 36 months (January 2013 – December 2015. The Construction Phases are broken down as follows:
· Completion of Mount Rosser Bypass (January 2013- March 2014)
· Caymanas to Linstead (May 2013-December 2015)
· Moneague to Ocho Rios (June 2013 – December 2015)
· Post December 2015 – China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) now has development plans in place and are open to considering additional proposals from and engaging in discussions with prospective investors and/or joint venture partners
In terms of financing, US$730M will be expended by CHEC as follows:
· US$610M for new construction
· US$120M re-imbursement to NROCC for Mount Rosser Bypass.
Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller highlighted the fact that the Project is one which transcended both administrations and so was one which symbolized continuity. The PM also spoke to the fact that the Project represented one of the largest foreign investments in Jamaica. In this respect she thanked BOUYGUES Travaux Publics, the French Company which was a part of Highway 2000 from its inception and which was responsible for the Mount Rosser Bypass. In commenting on the importance of the investment, the PM said, “…very little attention has been paid to the fact that there will be no debt obligation assumed by the Government of Jamaica (GOJ). There are no loans being borrowed by the GOJ from the People’s Republic of China. This represents an investment on the part of China Harbour in Jamaica.”
Continuing, Prime Minister Simpson Miller stressed that the Project is also to be seen as ‘an expansion and broadening of the economic relationship between the People’s Republic of China and Jamaica.’
Also speaking at the ceremony was Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness who endorsed the Project, noting that it was a welcome Capital Investment Project. He also explained that he was in support of other Projects being undertaken by CHEC including the Container Terminal Project in the Tinson Pen area. He joined the PM in encouraging local contractors to learn from the Chinese way of doing things so that they can improve their lot.
For his part, Transport, Works & Housing Minister Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies paid tribute to former Prime Minister Michael Manley who was instrumental in embarking on establishing relationships with the People’s Republic of China. He noted that those relationships are now paying rich dividends and said that the current levels of investments by the Chinese are for the betterment of the people of Jamaica.
The North-South Highway Development Project involves the Build, Own and Transfer (BOT) business model which will see the CHEC operating the tolled highway for a period of 50 years after which it will be transferred to the Government of Jamaica at no cost to the country.