Under very bright and sunny conditions, the Westmoreland Bridge situated in Chovey, St. Mary was declared opened on Tuesday, August 27, 2013.
The bridge which measures some 180 metres long was built at a cost of $US18M and is expected to serve several communities in that section of St. Mary. The previous structure was destroyed seven years ago by Hurricane Gustav and has been a major inconvenience to schoolchildren, the sick and elderly, taxi operators, small farmers ever since. People have had to on occasions, wade waist deep in water in order to get to the other side of their own community, or travel great distances via Bellfield or Esher to get across.
Speaking at the ceremony, Transport, Works & Housing Minister Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies said that with the opening of the bridge, there will be a corresponding increase in employment, production as well as social amenities. Continuing, he said “ I am thankful for the investments as is evidenced by projects such as the construction of the Westmoreland Bridge but even as I endorse such projects, I am asking persons to be sensitive to the needs of the environment.” The Minister also used the opportunity to highlight the fact that the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP) would begin this fiscal year. Under this programme, the nation’s infrastructure is expected to receive a major boost.
Also speaking at the ceremony, was Opposition spokesman on Transport and Works, Mr. Karl Samuda. He said that he was happy to be a part of the ceremony and commended the current administration for seeing the project through to its completion. He said that the construction of the bridge was a demonstration of a ‘joined-up country’ as the project was started by the JLP administration and was continued and opened under the current PNP administration.
For his part, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China Mr. Xia Guoshun hailed the construction of the bridge as representative of the bridge in the relationship between Jamaica and China. He said that the co-operation between the two countries was particularly good especially in terms of work on the infrastructure. Mr Guoshun said that the construction of the bridge will result in more jobs for the people of the area.
Mr. Xiao Yan Ming, Deputy Regional Manager of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) spoke to the celebration of two cultural milestones between China and Jamaica – the celebration of the Jamaica’s 50thanniversary of independence and the Beijing Olympics which China hosted. He noted that the friendship between the two countries will continue citing the fact that projects such as the construction of the Westmoreland Bridge will result in the transfer of skills to Jamaicans by the Chinese. This, he said will augur well for the economic and social development of Jamaica.
Other participants on the programme included Mayor of Port Maria, Councillor Levan Freeman; MP for South Eastern St. Mary, Dr. Winston Green; Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, Minister without portfolio (Housing) and Hon. Richard Azan, Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing.
Cultural items were provided by the Boscobel Primary & Junior High School and young Erica Lumsden who wowed the gathering with her extraordinary vocal prowess.