Thu, 12 Dec 2019 03:00:13 -0500
$4b for South Coast HighwayBY BALFORD HENRY
Construction of the long-awaited Southern Coastal Highway looks ready to take off by the end of March, with an allocation of approximately $4 billion included in the 2018/19 budget.
This comes exactly one year after Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, signed a US$326 million loan agreement with the China Ex-Im Bank for the highway which falls under the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP), and the extension of the tolled East-West Highway, which will run from May Pen, Clarendon, to Williamsfield, Manchester.
The project includes rehabilitation of the 110-kilometre roadway between Harbour View in St Andrew and Port Antonio, Portland.
According to the 2018/19 Estimates of Expenditure tabled in the House of Representatives on Thursday by Shaw, the implementing agency for the project is the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation. The contractor is China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC).
CHEC says that the work will include realignment and widening of the existing corridor, and major rehabilitation of the road from Morant Bay to Cedar Valley.
“As usual we will ensure that the project is delivered cost-effectively and on time,” says Dr Zhimin Hu, vice-president of CHEC Americas Division.
He added that CHEC will be making every effort to employ workers from neighbouring communities to complement the skills and technical capabilities of the Chinese workers who are required to undertake critical elements of the project.
According to the Estimates, the objective of the project is to improve the alignment of the existing southern coastal main arterial road, to make it safe and efficient, free from flooding and provide for future development.
The physical targets include: execution of major improvement to the main road from Harbour View to Yallahs Bridge, including 16 kilometres of four lanes with shoulders from Harbour View to Albion, and 1.35 kilometres of two lanes with shoulders from Albion to Port Antonio; rehabilitation of 93 kilometres on the main road from Yallahs Bridge to Port Antonio; rehabilitation of 27.5 kilometres on the main road from Morant Bay to Cedar Valley; acquisition of lands to accommodate the project; relocation of utility installations; and construction of the May Pen to Williamsfield section of Highway 2000.
Up to December 2017 several pre-project exercises had been done, including: consulting services and conducting an environmental impact assessment, surveying and valuation of land parcels along the road sections — Harbour View to Port Antonio, Morant Bay to Cedar Valley and May Pen to Williamsfield; negotiations completed and indicative contract signed between the government and CHEC; and environmental permits received for all segments of the programmed works.
Physical targets for 2018/19 include: investigating, surveying and designing the 17.4-kilometre four-lane road from Harbour View to Yallahs roadway; complete seven per cent construction of the Harbour View to Yallahs; commence construction on the Yallahs Bridge — Port Antonio and achieve 32 per cent completion; commence and complete 30 construction on the Morant Bay-Cedar Valley section; achieve 14 per cent completion of the May Pen to Williamsfield stage; complete relocation of utilities, and complete the May Pen to Wiliiamsfield portion of the project.
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