On September 14, 2023, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness officiated at the official opening of the section of the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP) that runs from May Pen to Williamsfield. The newly opened section represents SCHIP’s Part A, making major reductions in the time it takes to travel between Clarendon and Manchester parishes and providing significant economic and social benefits to those using it. Funds for the project were made available via a loan from the Government of the People’s Republic of China and implemented by the National Road Operating and Constructing Company Limited (NROCC), under the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.
Prime Minister Praises Project
In his remarks at the opening ceremony, Holness described the new development as one step toward improving Jamaicans’ quality of life. He also noted the gains in productivity associated with the new road as it would reduce time lost in traffic along with the discomfort and aggression created by driving on bad roads. Holness listed other benefits as improved response times of security forces and lower costs related to the delivery of agricultural products to market. Improvements in infrastructure improve the nation’s well-being, he emphasized. Motorists will be able to use the highway at no cost until the end of 2023 on December 31. Beginning in 2024, however, toll rates will be imposed.
Scope of Project
Holness added that the scope of the highway improvement project includes a new bridge comprising four lanes to be built across the Rio Minho. This is expected to enhance the resilience of the area to potentially damaging weather events. Also featured is a liability phase lasting two years in which the contractor, the China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC), will be required to fix any defects related to the project.
Project Officials Mark Highway’s Opening
The managing director of the NROCC, Stephen Edwards, noting that the implementation of the project contract began in 2019, called the highway opening a “momentous occasion” in the development of Jamaica’s infrastructure and characterized it as a “giant leap forward” for Clarendon, Manchester, and all Jamaicans. Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, Hon. Daryl Vaz, said the opening of the highway represents “a pivotal junction” in the transportation history of Jamaica, while Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Everald Warmington, said the new leg of the highway network signified “development, connectivity, and the promise of a brighter future” for those traveling the south coast of the country.
Features of the Project
The project includes a four-lane highway, 23 kilometers long, with a diamond interchange and Florida-T at May Pen, a separated interchange toll gate, four bridges, 17 concrete box crossings, and an interchange at Melrose. Also featured are upgrades to some five kilometers along the Melrose Bypass, including a four-lane dual carriageway, a police post at the toll gate, safety fences, concrete barriers in the medians, and the installation/expansion of fiber optics.
Photo – JIS on YouTube