Chinese construction firm China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) has been lauded by the Government for completing the Rio Grande Bridge in St Margaret's Bay, Portland, within budget and on time.
The much-anticipated structure was officially opened last Thursday, two years after work started to replace the previous bridge which collapsed during the passage of Hurricane Dennis in 2005.
Speaking at last week's function to officially open the facility, Transport Minister Dr Omar Davies said: "I say to the line-up of engineers and contractors before me, let us look at what others in the world are doing. It cannot be rocket science that they (the Chinese) were able to deliver the bridge on time and within budget," Davies said.
He added further, "that has to be the norm for all projects in Jamaica".
He noted that not only was the project not faced with any cost overruns, but Jamaican workers were able to learn from their Chinese counterparts through the transfer of knowledge.
Meanwhile, the transport minister used the occasion to call on the private sector to assist in the funding of some small local infrastructural projects.
"While it is important that your sector organisations lobby and demand more of Government, it is time to step up to the plate. We can put in the infrastructure, but there is an absolute need for local investors to start thinking of small projects to invest in," Davies said.
This, he said, will not only raise the level of economic activity, but also increase employment.
The transport minister also announced that a feasibility study for the technical specification for the road from Port Antonio to Kingston, via St Thomas, was recently signed. This, he said, is evidence that the People's National Party Administration is committed to seeing to the building of that road.
Such an infrastructure, coupled, with local investments in accommodations, Davis said, will assist in the transformation within the parishes of Portland and St Thomas, which have been long neglected.
The 220-metre span Rio Grande bridge, said to be one of the longest in the island, was built at a cost of US$28.3 million.
Chinese ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Zhen Qingdian said the finished product is a tribute to the many Jamaicans who worked so well to complete this project on time.
"This is a proud moment for China Harbour Engineering Company, as we have completed another major project in Jamaica on time and within budget, and I express profound thanks to all the persons who worked on this project and made it a success," the ambassador said.
The bridge, he added, is a major boost to Jamaica's infrastructure in the eastern end of the island.
In the meantime, Member of Parliament for East Portland Dr Lynvale Bloomfield said 33 per cent or 31 of the 92 bridges in the parish are in disrepair. This, he said, is almost twice the amount of bridges in disrepair across the island.
As such, he stated that the newly constructed Rio Grande bridge is a welcome addition to the bridge stock in the parish.
"Only 65 per cent of our bridges have been built since 1950, and at this time 18 per cent of our bridges (islandwide) are in disrepair," he said .