Prelim South Coast roadwork to begin

Observer senior reporter

Friday, February 01, 2019

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PRELIMINARY roadwork on the South Coast is set to begin before the end of March. This came out of the recent Cabinet six-day pre-budget retreat, which gave the nod to five sub-contracts.

These are: Hordley to Long Road – 4.1km at a cost of US$2.3 million;

Manchioneal to Fair Prospect – 8.8km at a cost of US$5.1 million;

Morant Bay to Serge Island – 14.7 km at a cost of US$5.1 million;

Serge Island to Cedar Valley – 11.7 km at a cost of US$5.5 million; and,

Morant Bay to Prospect – 8.9 km at a cost US$4.8 million.

The highway from Harbour View to Yallahs will be done by the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), while final design work will be completed in six months and work will commence by the end of the current year.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, told the House of Representatives during the recent debate on the Second Supplementary Supplement 2018/19 that procurement of materials for the highway is expected to begin in the “next few weeks”.

He added that following this he expects that the project will proceed without delay. The parliamentary Opposition says that residents in St Thomas were angered by the delays.

At the start of the current fiscal year in March last year, $3.6 billion was set aside for the project which involves rehabilitation of over 100 kilometres of roadway between Harbour View in east Kingston and Port Antonio, Portland. But that estimate has been reduced $490 million following reduced allocations in the Supplementary Estimates, adding up to just over $3 billion.

The minister said that the delays were to ensure that the government secures the most favourable contractual arrangements.

“We could have easily given in to what the counter parties wanted, but we delayed to ensure that the terms are favourable,” he said.

So those who want to soak up the warmth of the human and physical nature of the south coast will have to wait at least another couple of years for the long-delayed project to open up the area.

The parishes of Kingston, St Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester and St Elizabeth make up most of the south coast area.

It is interesting that Kingston, which already has a resort-like tradition in the downtown area, has already begun to improve its attractions, especially at Victoria Pier on the city's waterfront which has overnight become the “hip strip” for the capital city.

But promoters insists that the rural leg of the coastline is “the place to get away from the tourist hubs and see some of the country's farmland and less-frequented coastline”.

They also note that these parishes are less “dependent on tourism and accordingly less pushy in soliciting business”, and that while the region doesn't boast “grandiose or glitzy resorts”, the accommodations often make up for it with their “rootsy charm”, and there's still plenty of comfortable lodging.

Hopefully, the urgency displayed by the cabinet during the recent retreat will encourage a speedier resolution of the issues holding up the programme, and open up this promising wonderland to Jamaican and visiting motorists anxiously waiting to explore relatively virgin coastline stops like Treasure Beach, Y S Falls, Middle Quarters, Greater Morass and towns like Black River.

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