Work on Portland leg of highway continuing despite budget cut

THE Portland leg of the Southern Coast Highway Improvement Project is continuing at a fast pace despite a $6.6-billion cut in the amount the Government allocated to spend on the massive road programme this fiscal year.

In the First Supplementary Estimates for the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year tabled in Parliament last week, the allocation for the long-touted road improvement project was reduced by more than 50 per cent, from $12.9 billion to $6.2 billion.

The big ticket items reduced were the amount allocated for the acquisition of land, which has been cut by $2.2 billion, while $4.1 billion has been slashed from the amount allocated for fixed assets for the work, which covers the rehabilitation of approximately 110 kilometres of road between Harbour View in St Andrew and Port Antonio in Portland, and the 26-kilometre thoroughfare from Morant Bay to Cedar Valley in St Thomas.

So far, work has started on the corridor from Audley Crossing in St Thomas to Long Road in Portland, and the road from Manchioneal to Fair Prospect, where preparation — including the clearing of land to widen the roadway, cutting down of overhanging trees, and the gathering of stones to construct retaining walls — is in progress.

“The section from Audley Crossing to Long Road will see a complete rehabilitation for that section of the roadway, construction of adequate drainage, and the installation of new water pipes,” Daryl Vaz, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, told the Jamaica Observer.

“The contract sum from Audley Crossing to Long Road is $550 million and the contractor is YP Seaton and Associates. The corridor from Manchioneal to Fair Prospect has a contract sum of $1.1 billion and the contractor is Construction Solutions. Those roadways have started already and are under construction as we speak,” added Vaz, who is also the Member of Parliament for Portland Western.

He added that two other packages, the corridor from Boston to Drapers and from Drapers to Port Antonio, are now out for tender.

“The section from Boston to Drapers is estimated to cost $1 billion while the section from Drapers to Port Antonio is also budgeted at $1 billion. Work on these two sections is expected to begin within the next three to four months.

“The corridor from Hectors River to Port Antonio will be fully rehabilitated and fitted with new drainage, new retaining wall, where necessary, construction of new bridges, and installation of new pipelines,” added Vaz.

He noted that 15 subcontracts are being awarded for work on the entire Southern Coast Highway Improvement Project with China Harbour Engineering Company being the contractor.

Speaking at the official launch of the project in Yallahs, St Thomas, last November, Prime Minister Andrew Holness warned that the Government would be taking steps to ensure that its execution was closely monitored to prevent delays and to ensure that it is completed within the stipulated timeline and budget, and that the work is of the highest standard.

%d bloggers like this: