Jamaicans got an early Independence gift when the much-anticipated Linstead to Moneague Leg of Highway 2000 was opened by Prime Minister the Hon. Portia Simpson Miller in a ceremony dotted by colour and coronation on August 5th, 2014.
Dignitaries, government officials, and a strong Chinese delegation as well as community members converged on the Treadways toll booth in St. Catherine for the opening of the Bypass forming Segment II of the project, several of them getting a first-hand view of the 19.2 kilometre-long roadway.
The opening of the Linstead to Moneague Bypass is significant to Jamaicans for several reasons.
The largest infrastructural development of its kind, at US$720 million, the project took advantage of technology never before utilized in this side of the hemisphere after geo-technical issues had earlier caused delays for the previous developers.
But it is the reduction in travel time that will now see users bypassing the problematic Mount Rosser that will be special for many. The result will be a noticeable decline in the wear and tear of vehicles traversing the thoroughfare as the four-lane dual carriage-way opens up endless possibilities for commerce.
Noting the “many memories” that evolved from the two- year-long project, chairman of China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC), Mo Wenhe, extended thanks to the Government and people of Jamaica for their hospitality and the confidence shown in CHEC. Looking ahead, he said the opening of the highway would stimulate economic development and stood as a “bridge” between China and Jamaica.
Chen YuShen, vice-president of China Communications Construction Company also congratulated the stakeholders on the achievement, calling the project the “largest capacity construction in Jamaica’s history”.
Member of Parliament for St. Catherine North Western Hon. Robert Pickersgill regaled with stories of his own dating back to October 2007 when ground was first broken for the project.
Calling the occasion “déjà vu”, he noted that the project spanned two administrations and created employment for constituents, several of whom were women. He also spoke highly of the transfer of skills and technical knowledge from the Chinese to locals, and, chronicling Jamaica-China relations, said the roadway was paved by Michael Manley in 1972.
Like his parliamentary counterpart, Dr. Horace Chang who represented Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, pointed out that “the opening of the highway demonstrates what can be achieved when cooperation takes place”.
Chinese ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Dong Xiaojun expressed delight at China’s contribution to Jamaica attaining Vision 2030 and gave assurance that the works, when completed, would be of “top quality”.
Plans are afoot for the development and commercialization of lands along various sections of the highway. Outlining several of those, Minister of Transport, Works & Housing, Dr. the Honourable Omar Davies appealed to local investors to “seize the opportunities” as the project, when completed, will be a worthwhile one.
“A special Independence gift” is how Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller described the opening of the Bypass before announcing to the jubilant crowd that they would benefit from one month’s usage, toll free.
She revealed that the project came at no cost to the Government, and said that a total of US$120 million would be repaid by the developers to the government. Approximately 1,200 acres have been earmarked for development by the Chinese.
The overall project is slated for completion in the first quarter of 2016 and will among other benefits, “see the reduction of rural to urban migration”, the prime minister said.
A view of the toll plaza at Treadways, St. Catherine from the Linstead corridor.