Segment Three of the Northern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (NCHIP) was officially opened on Thursday, May 9, 2013 in a ceremony at the Agualta Vale Roundabout.  The Roundabout was also renamed the Robert Schuman Roundabout in honour of the co-founder of the EU, Robert Schuman.

The corridor which runs from Ocho Rios in St. Ann to Port Antonio in Portland was built at a cost of 80 million Euros with funds from the 7th and 8th European Development Fund. The road links the northern parishes of St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland and is a vital component of the island’s tourism infrastructure. Measuring some 96km, it runs primarily adjacent to the coastline passing through numerous towns and villages.

In terms of scope of works, eight new bridges were constructed; three existing bridges were extended/widened while thirteen existing ones were rehabilitated. The drainage system was also improved in addition to traffic control devices and informational signs being installed. To assist with movement of travellers, many curve widening, bus turnouts and right turn lanes were also implemented.     

On another note, the Agualta Vale Roundabout was renamed the Robert Schuman Roundabout in recognition of the contributions to the EU by Schuman. Schuman who is regarded as one of the founding fathers of the EU was twice Prime Minister of France, a reformist Minister of Finance and a Foreign Minister. His speeches and writings are said to have had a lasting influence on European integration.   

Speaking at the ceremony, Transport, Works & Housing Minister Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies said that the construction of Segment 3 of NCHIP was a significant achievement.  Continuing, he said, “ This 96.2km of roadway has greatly impacted the lives of thousands of residents, by providing improved access to major tourism centres, as well as the potential for much further development in townships and communities through which it passes.”

Notwithstanding the positives associated with the NCHIP, the Minister noted that there were some things concerning the corridor with which he was not pleased. In speaking to this, he said, “I am aware that a section of the road failed in White Hall during one of the floods which occurred after the completion of the project. I have mandated the NWA to move as quickly as possible to carry out the technical work needed to repair the damaged section.”

For her part, Head of the EU Delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Paola Amadei spoke to the role Robert Schuman played in the EU. In this respect ,she said, “The 9th of May is a very special day for all Europeans: it marks the end of World War 11 and it commemorates the declaration delivered on 9th May, 1950 by French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman marking the initial appeal for the construction of Europe. The anniversary of this declaration is celebrated annually across Europe as Scuman or Europe Day.” Continuing and speaking to the bond between Jamaica and the EU, the Ambassador noted that since the establishment of the European Commission Delegation in Jamaica in April, 1976 to facilitate the implementation of the 1stLome’ Conventions, Jamaica has always enjoyed close economic and political ties with Europe. “In the following decades, the process of European integrastion has brought a constant enhancement of the political and economic relationships between Jamaica and what is now the EU”, she added.

Also speaking at the ceremony was Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Audrey Sewell. She highlighted the significant contributions the EU has made to the Jamaican economy. “ Some 122.9M Euros has been allocated to Jamaica spanning the years 2010-2013; to date the EU remains Jamaica’s largest grant partner pumping some 710 Euros in bilateral co-operation over the last 30 years,” she recounted. “This is truly a powerful demonstration of commitment to our nation and people,” she emphasized.  

Other speakers included, Mr. Charles Johnston, Chairman, Jamaica Producers Ltd; Mr. Karl Samuda, Opposition spokesman on Transport & Works, Mr. Bobby Pottinger, former Custos of St. Mary and Mayor of Port Maria, Councillor Levan Freeman.

Following the ceremony, lunch was provided by Jamaica Producers on their nearby property.