St Thomas highway to start in March

BY KARENA BENNETT
Business reporter
bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 12, 2018

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Project Manager of the National Works Agency (NWA), Alphanso Marshall has confirmed plans to commence road works on the St Thomas leg of the South Coast Highway by March.

The update of the proposed road improvement project was made at a town hall meeting held in Bull Bay last November to address concerns about section 1A of the Southern Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP) which stretches from Harbour View, Kingston, to Yallahs Bridge, St Thomas.

Marshall, in responding to questions from the residents about the anticipated start date for the road works, said conditions that have to be met by the Government before the agreement can become effective, and before the bank disburses the loan are currently being addressed.

It is hoped that the terms will be fulfilled by the first quarter of this year for the disbursement of US$384 million funded by the China Export/Import Bank.

“Once those conditions are met, arrangements will be made for funds to be disbursed to the contractor, and once he gets his funds, then officially, he will begin his work,” Marshall said in verbatim notes of the public presentation on the Environmental Impact Assessment published on the National Environment and Planning Agency website.

“And we are hoping that can be done early into the new year, and certainly within 2018. The financial year ends in March next year [2018], and we are hoping that the project will commence by March 2018. Of course, it is a design-built contract,” he continued.

He said final designs that are to be developed by the contractor will commence thereafter and is estimated to take 10 months, during which the process for acquisition of lands in the right-of-way of the roads to be widened and improved will begin.

“We are not going to wait until the designs are finished in ten months to start acquiring land. It is done sequentially, so that by the time designs are finalised, in terms of the land requirement, then the process to procure lands will be pursued, and we are hoping that the construction can start, ideally to the latter part of the 10-month period,” he reasoned.

In the first phase, the road improvement project is expected to employ approximately 350 people; 875 indirect jobs and 630 induced jobs. The NWA also noted that there is the potential for increased sales for people with restaurants and shops as the construction gets underway, as well as dislocation of a number of residents.

So far, St Benedict the Moore and the African Martyrs of Uganda Roman Catholic churches are expected to be impacted by the road works. The expansion could also affect two schools, a health centre and a computer centre.

Meanwhile, NWA Communications Manager Stephen Shaw has urged land- owners to get their names registered on the titles, in instances where the property has been willed to respective individuals.

“In other words, your grandmother/grandfather/parents/husband will the property to you, it is good time to try and get that particular parcel of land or those parcels in your name. In other words, have that will probated,” he said.

“You want to make sure that you have a title because, part of the problem that we have is that persons will claim ownership but they cannot show you a title, and that is really what Government will use as the basis for compensation for land.

And it is a good reason for that, because you may say you own; Government pays out, only to find that somebody else, the rightful owner, turns up with the paper. What does Government do? Government is duty bound to pay, so Government will not want to pay two times for the same land,” Shaw said.

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