Gov’t Says Urban Centre, Major Highway Upgrade Coming To St. Thomas

Sections of Portland, St. Thomas and St. Catherine are next in line to receive major infrastructural development, following several approvals out of Cabinet recently.

Minister of Information Ruel Reid, speaking at a post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday, September 26, said that the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) will be the main contractor for all three projects: improvements to the South Coast Highway, the development of the Morant Bay Urban Centre and the Naggo Head Technology Park in St. Thomas and Portmore, St. Catherine respectively.

“Cabinet approved the implementation schedule and governance framework for the South Coast Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP) part B local components in the estimated amount of US$85,449,419.00,” he said.

Part B of the project covers connecting sections of Yallahs to Port Antonio and Morant Bay to Cedar Valley and is being contracted out to CHEC through local contractors.

St. Thomas also gets further attention, following Cabinet’s acceptance of a joint-venture agreement between the Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ) and CHEC for the construction of the Morant Bay Urban Centre – a project that will utilise lands previously owned by the now derelict Goodyear Jamaica factory.

“This new centre will be constructed on 28 acres and 365 square feet during a two-year construction period,” Reid said, adding that instructions were made in the agreement to include a clause that allows the Government to divest its equity through a public offering on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE).

The Ministry of Culture will also be directed to have consultations with the FCJ to incorporate the replacement of the Goodyear Sports Oval as well as other considerations for heritage, culture and sport.

Minister Reid added that a second joint-venture agreement was approved by Cabinet for the development of the Naggo Head Technology Park in Portmore, St. Catherine.

He noted that the agreement, to take place between the FCJ and CHEC, sees the development of 34 acres and 810 square feet over a construction period of two years.

“The Cabinet also instructed that the joint-venture agreement should include a provision for the Government to divest its equity through a public offering on the Jamaica Stock Exchange,” Minister Reid asserted.

By Gavin Riley

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