After three years of road construction, Member of Parliament for St Thomas Eastern, Dr Michelle Charles wants two sub-contractors removed from the South Coast Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP).
The sub-contractors are NF Barnes Construction & Equipment Company Limited and Kinetic Engineering Services. The main contractor is China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC).
Charles made the call on Tuesday during her contribution to the State of the Constituency Debate. She noted that her call comes after protests by her constituents about the poor state of the road, and even after Prime Minister Andrew Holness met with the contractors.
Citing that the work on the roadway started one year before she was elected to the Parliament in September 2020, Charles said: “The progress has been slow and the maintenance and protection of the traffic-way extremely uncomfortable and downright disrespectful to the people of St Thomas Eastern”.
The Jamaica Labour Party MP said she spoke with her constituents about the discomforts caused by the roadworks while she negotiated with the contractors to improve the situation.
“I invited the member from St Catherine South West (Everald Warmington, the Minister with responsibility for Works) to tour our road and he came. He evaluated the progress of the road work and made his recommendations. The prime minister has met with the same contractors as well. My people (constituents) have demonstrated, I have negotiated and we are still left frustrated. After three years I can no longer ask them to be patient,” Charles stated.
She said: “I want to inform this honourable House that I will always stand with the people of St Thomas Eastern. The people of St Thomas Eastern have spoken and I am here to deliver the message. We the people of St Thomas Eastern are calling for the immediate removal of the sub-contractors, NF Barnes Construction & Equipment Company Limited and Kinetic Engineering Services. We call upon the chief contractors, China Harbour Engineering Company Limited to completely take over the daily operations of the road work of package 4 in St Thomas Eastern”.
Charles argued that the poor condition of the roadway and slow progress of the work can no longer be tolerated.
“We trust that CHEC will expedite the work in a manner that is acceptable to all. The people of St Thomas Eastern are holding me accountable and the contractors must be held accountable as well,” she said.
In August and September, residents of the affected communities mounted roadblocks to protest the dust nuisance and the poor quality of the work. Among the affected communities are Lyssons which saw its main road being blocked on several occasions, Leith Hall, Bath, Port Morant and Dalvey.
The SCHIP comprises two segments and 15 packages with CHEC as main contractor and several sub-contractors.