Plans on for US$8-million MoBay cement centre this year
HART... we are proposing to offer an alternative to the one supplier that exists.

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Businessman Mark Hart has revealed plans to break ground for the development of a US$8-million cement distribution centre in this western city later this year.

"We are planning to break ground for the facility this year. We're going through the planning stages right now. Yes, we're putting all the pieces together now," Hart told the Jamaica Observer last week.

President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry Oral Heaven endorsed the experienced businessman's plans, and lauded him for his vision to develop the facility in preparation for the construction boom which is expected to intensify in western Jamaica and beyond, as the Government and private sector tout looming infrastructural developments.

"We have hotels being constructed in the north coast — from St James up to Trelawny into St Ann. We have hotels going up in Hanover, plus the housing developments that are happening all across the island, all these require cement. We have big construction going on in St James, the Harbour City [shopping complex] finishing there, that's a massive complex. So all of this require a lot of raw material and I think Mark saw that and was proactive to make provisions for the demand that will come. Invest in it and we will have the supply," Heaven argued.

He added: "Based on where I sit, we have import and we have manufacturing. We [are] not getting enough cement in time to match the construction that is happening? The thing is the proposal on the table from Mark Hart is something that he needs to run with to have that distribution centre right here to feed the construction that is happening."

Among some of the expected projects are Government's $40-billion road improvement project to modernise 2,000 roads across the island under the so-called 'Shared Prosperity through Accelerated Improvement to our Road Network (SPARK) programme.

There are also the planned US$274.5-million Montego Bay Perimeter Road, the Runaway Bay and Discovery Bay bypass projects, to complement the current North Coast Highway widening project.

Some 20,000 new hotel rooms are also expected to be built over the next five years, as well as a number of planned housing developments.

Currently a US$34-million runway extension work is under way at Sangster International Airport as part of a wider US$70-million runway expansion project.

"We have highways, we have hotels, we have the hospitals being built in the west, we have a lot of housing projects. The Government has a very ambitious plan to provide a lot of housing units. And all these things rely on stable, well-priced cement," Hart told the Sunday Observer.

"We are proposing to offer an alternative to the one supplier that exists so that they have stability of supply and stability of pricing for the customers so that the construction industry can continue to do what they do," he said.

He reiterated: "Cement is really the most important component in construction."

For the last 16 years, Montego Bay company Buying House Cement has been importing cement to meet 10 per cent demand from Domicem cement plant in the Dominican Republic.

Hart is the chairman of Cargo House Handlers, a publicly listed company with 30 per cent shares in Buying House Cement.

BY HORACE HINES Sunday Observer writer editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

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