Bushing of Vernamfield to be completed this week

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

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PHASE one of the Vernamfield Development Project in Clarendon commenced on October 29 with the bushing of the aerodrome and is scheduled to be completed by this week.

This was disclosed by minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister Mike Henry during a statement to the House of Representatives yesterday.

By way of Cabinet decision, approval was given to proceed with the implementation of the Vernamfield development project. The limited scope of the project allows for the establishment of aviation training and aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services, and warehousing of humanitarian relief supplies.

Henry informed that pursuant to the project to reactivate aviation activities at Vernamfield, the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ) allocated a budget of $300 million for the project, consisting of a runway of minimal dimension.

The elements of phase one of the development programme are bushing of the aerodrome to the minimal dimensions determined prior to receiving a technical report on the runway condition; fencing of the runway strip in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organisation safety standards; rehabilitation of the runway pavement to include the implementation of runway end safety areas; and installation of utilities, including a small terminal to facilitate the operation of the services at the aerodrome.

“Further, to accelerate the reactivation of the aerodrome, the AAJ has been encouraged to execute phase one elements in parallel instead of in sequence as was planned,” Henry said.

“However, with receipt of the runway condition report on November 9, 2018, which determined the runway condition to be far more favourable than was planned for, it was recommended and the decision taken to optimise the use of the available runway to better utilise the asset for commercial purposes,” he added.

Henry informed that the contracts for the fencing and runway rehabilitation are to be revised and put to tender in December 2018, for which the work is to commence in February 2019.

He also noted that, at the same time, the acquisition of private lands by the AAJ, in accordance with guidance by the National Land Agency, will be pursued after consultation and negotiation with the land owners.

“The AAJ has estimated aviation activities to commence early in the third quarter of 2019 after utilities are installed. It is to be noted that every effort is being made to ensure there is resumption of aviation activities in the third quarter of 2019,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, Henry pointed out that it has been decided that job opportunities will be created for unattached youth from Clarendon communities in four main activities under the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment Programme.

He noted that the four areas include landownership reverification; a demographic survey to determine skills available in the project area; aerodrome grounds and facilities maintenance; and aerodrome security.

“Recruitment of youth throughout the parish has commenced utilising the HEART/Trust NTA — all of this to occur prior to the acceptance of apprenticeship with the AAJ at Vernamfield,” he added.

The Project Core Implementation Team has been conducting a series of sensitisation meetings with the communities of south Clarendon to keep the residents fully informed.

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