The Jamaica National Works Agency has confirmed that the North Coast Highway between Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport and Greenside, Trelawny, will not be ready in time for Cricket World Cup 2007.
The agency was responding to concerns raised by the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which were published in Monday’s Gleaner.
MBCCI President, Pauline Reid criticised the NWA and its Danish contractors Pihl for making a promise it could not keep. She accused them of moving at a slow pace in completing the project and not being prepared for the influx of people who will attend the world renowned event which commences March 5.
“If the recent Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, where persons were stuck in traffic for hours, is to be used as a benchmark, then the proposed numbers of 12,000-15, 000 additional visitors for Cricket World Cup will definitely create a nightmare in the tourism capital, Montego Bay,” Ms. Reid stated.
In response, the NWA’s Communications Manager, Stephen Shaw, admitted that in terms of the readiness, it is true that the promise made by the contractors to have two lanes finished in time for the games will not be realised.
He said that currently the focus is on the corridor between the SeaCastles Hotel, Rose Hall and Falmouth, in addition to a small section in front of the new Iberostar Hotel in Lilliput.
Noting that significant progress was made on the project, he said, “already they (the contractors) have laid base course material along some sections, they have paved Wiltshire (border of St. James and Trelawny) and the intention is to have the ‘Flankers’ bypass paved.” He added that the other areas would be maintained in a fairly reasonable driving condition; however, he refused to make any commitment that there would be any significant ease in traffic congestion during the period.
“The time that it would take from Falmouth to Montego Bay should be lessened, but it is work in progress,” he stressed.
He cautioned that as a project under construction, some sections will continue to look like just that, ‘a construction site’, until everything is out of sight.
This segment of the North Coast Highway, which was awarded to contractor Pihl, commenced in March 2006.