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Highway halt - NEPA puts brakes on North-South leg

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, May 09, 2014    

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THE Jamaica North South Highway Company Limited (JNSHCL) has ceased the clearing of lands outside of the approved alignment, with respect to the construction of section one (Caymanas to Linstead) leg of the North South Link of Highway 2000.

This follows National Environment Planning Agency (NEPA) issue of a Cessation Order on JNSHCL, the registered company responsible for China Harbour Engineering Company's (CHEC) involvement in the construction of the highway link, for breaches of the National Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) permit requirements, on April 22.

NEPA says that the order was made against the company for unauthorised clearing of lands outside of the approved alignment with respect to the construction of the highway, south of the approved road alignment for Segment 1 (Caymanas to Linstead). The NRCA ordered Jamaica North South Highway Company Limited to immediately cease the activity or face prosecution.

NEPA confirmed yesterday that the JNSHCL has ceased the activity. The NEPA source said that there are two options now open to JNSHCL: to revert to the original design of the road or to make a new design and have it approved.

JNSHC is the developer and China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC) the contractor for the North South Link.The National Road Operating & Constructing Company Limited (NROCC) is the Government of Jamaica representative responsible for overseeing construction activities and to acquire the necessary lands.

The North/South Link is expected to cost US$600 million, and will be financed by loans from China Development Bank and from equity provided by CHEC. It will be a 4-lane highway, similar to the existing highway with all grade-separated Interchanges.

Under a Concession and Implementation Agreement signed last June at the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, the link will proceed as follows: Section 1 - Caymanas to Linstead- 27.5 km; Section 2 - Linstead to Moneague (Mount Rosser Bypass), 19.5 km scheduled to be completed by the first week in August; and, section 3, Moneague to Ocho Rios, 20 km, on which work started last October and is expected to be completed by January, 2016. The entire project is expected to last for 36 months, with a completion date of January, 2016 .

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