India, Jamaica sign MOU to have floodlights installed at Sabina Park
AFTER numerous delays and a handful of false starts, the wait appears to be over in the drive to have floodlights installed at Sabina Park.
Yesterday at the world-famous cricket ground, the governments of India and Jamaica signed a memorandum of under-standing which will see the Asian country providing a grant of US$2.1 million towards the inatallation of lights at the venue.
"We are pleased that the Government of India has agreed to sign a bi-lateral memorandum of understanding with the Government of Jamaica to provide financial support for the installation of the floodlights at Sabina Park. This support is in the form of a grant in the sum of $2.1 million," said Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller as she addressed the media and various stakeholders.
Simpson Miller, who spoke feelingly of several landmark occurrences at the historic venue, explained that the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) will grant a further US$600,000 to cover the estimated total project value of US$2.7 million.
The months of seemingly painstaking negotiations have also involved two different administrations of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), members of the Kingston Cricket Club, and representatives of Sabina Park Holdings, the entity which manages the venue and its facilities.
The project, which will be managed by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), has been awarded to the FosRich Group of Companies, which will be working with Philips Lighting, a global firm that has strong ties in Europe, Asia and South America.
The UDC and the contractors FosRich also signed an agreement for the project which is expected to be completed in three months.
Stakeholders are already eyeing the possibility of having lights in time for the second staging of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Twenty20 tournament in June.
With the expectancy that soon there will be the facility for cricket and other entertainment events at night, the Prime Minister said "thanks to the tremendous generosity of the Government and people of India [that] this is now behind us".
The gift reflects the emergence of the Asian country, which has a population of over 1.2 billion people, as a rapidly growing economic giant.
The Indian High Commissioner to Kingston Shri Pratap Singh said the collaboration is part of a move to further strengthen the "economic and commercial co-operation between the two countries for mutual benefit".
"The first instalment of US$0.77 million is being released right away and the balance would be provided later. I'm confident that this gesture on the part of the Government of India should pave the way for further enhancement of the relationship between our two countries.
"I assure you that as high commissioner of India I will do everything possible to consolidate and strengthen our bilateral relations," said the diplomat.
The lack of lights at any cricket venue in Jamaica, the only premier Caribbean nation without the facility, has been a vexing topic since the failure to put in the infrastructure for the region's hosting of the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
The issue was highlighted during the inaugural CPL competition in 2013.
Ahead of that tournament, the then JCA administration announced that Sabina Park Holdings had a partnership with a financier and contractor for the project.
However, three weeks later, the deal collapsed after a breakdown in talks between Sabina Park Holdings, its affiliates and the would-be contractor.