Highway completion date extended to 2023Wednesday, September 08, 2021
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Motorists eager for the completion of work on the US$188-million May Pen to Williamsfield leg of Highway 2000's east-west corridor will have to wait longer as the project has been extended to January 2023.
The project — which will reduce travel time between Kingston, Mandeville and other points west — was originally scheduled for completion in October 2022.
George Nicholson, senior manager for technical services at National Road Operating and Constructing Company — which is responsible for overseeing the design, construction, and maintenance of Jamaica's highways — explained that the contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), asked for the extension.
“What we had with the project was a period before the start that was earmarked for investigations and [the contractor] had asked us to tack that on to the back of the project,” he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
According to Nicholson, the contractor had said they didn't need to use the three-month extension at the very start, but wanted to add those three months to the overall project time.
“So we agreed to that, because it was a provision that was made that they would have been able to avail themselves of, they just didn't use it. So we moved it to the back end. Instead of getting three extra months at the start [CHEC] has gotten three extra months at the end,” Nicholson added.
He said preparatory work is ongoing at different stages of the project.
“We are well along. We are about halfway through, in terms of time and in terms of construction itself. We are still only about 40 per cent based on the work activities we are doing now, but time expanded is about 50 per cent, but just bear in mind that there are work activities that are taking place that don't contribute to the overall progress of the project until we install them,” Nicholson said.
“For instance, the fabrication of the bridge beams, those things are being done, but until the beams are erected onto the piers, we don't count them… There is a lot of work going on in the background that is preparatory at this stage,” he added.
He said recent heavy rain associated with the passage of tropical storms had hindered the contractor from working in some areas.
“Those [storms] are going to prevent the contractor from working in some areas until the areas dry out and they can start manipulating the soil or have access there,” Nicholson said.
He said eight full working days have so far been lost due to the Government's novel coronavirus lockdown no-movement measure, which has affected transportation for local workers although they are exempt.
“The second thing is trying to balance that against the no-movement regulations.... A lot of the workers who would have normally been out on site can't get transport, so even though they are exempt and can come and work on the project, they can't get transportation to come on the site. So that's going to have an effect on us in terms of completion dates,” Nicholson said.
“We programmed eight whole working days lost just from no-movement days, but of course there are other curfew implications that happen to give us a little bit of a problem sometimes, as well. But the contractor is trying to reorganise [the] work, so [they] can work around those times, and in some areas for the project we have gotten permission from NEPA [National Environment and Planning Agency] to work 24 hours,” he added.