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JAM | Feb 11, 2024

Ambassador Chen Daojiang | New St Thomas highway will bring long-term tangible benefits to its people 

/ Our Today

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Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness (fourth from right) and Chinese Ambassador Chen Daojiang (second from right) at the St Thomas highway opening on Tuesday, February 6, 2024. (OUR TODAY photo)

The Southern Coastal Improvement Project (SCIP) connects Harbour View in St Andrew to Port Antonio in Portland.

On Tuesday (February 6), Prime Minister Andrew Holness officially opened Part B II (Harbour View to Yallahs Bridge) leg of the highway in St Thomas.

This four-lane road is a joint venture with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC). The roadway spans 17 kilometres from Harbour View to Yallahs.

China’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Chen Daojiang spoke at the opening ceremony.

Below are his remarks: 

It’s a great honor to witness this historic moment. At this moment, I am as excited as the people in St. Andrew and St. Thomas.

Because last April, I went to Morant Bay right through here, having to travel on the bumpy road. At that time, I shared the Jamaican friends’ desire for the road to be completed as soon as possible. Today, my desire is realised.

Aerial view of the first applied layer of asphalt on the left hand side of South Coast Highway Improvement Pproject (SCHIP) at Grants Pen, St Thomas as at March 16, 2022. (Photo: Twitter @CHECJamaica)

It’s not an easy project

It’s not an easy project for contractors led by China Harbour. They endured some misunderstandings while making big efforts, working hard and sweating to construct this vital road.

It’s not an easy project for the people in the eastern parishes. They have suffered with traffic jams, experienced inconvenience and dust during the whole construction period.

It’s not an easy project for the Government of Jamaica. Just like the Norman Manley Airport Road Project, this project is also supported by Chinese preferential loans. As is known to all, there are lots of unobjective and unfair media reports on debt and loans, especially about China’s loans to other countries and projects.

China’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Chen Daojiang

This puts much pressure on the Government of Jamaica, who has been committed to reducing its debt ratio. 

But the fact is that financing for development, especially for infrastructure construction means taking on debt in the short term which is sometimes necessary for the sustainable development of a country, a nation in the long-term. In fact, it is not profitable to invest in infrastructure, that’s why we rarely see the private sector investing in building roads or bridges.

Only responsible governments would do such “stupid things”. But is it really true that there is no profit in investing infrastructure? For example, can the road under our feet improve the appearance of the country and improve the travel experience for everyone?

Can it attract investment and talent to the eastern parishes, and thus boost economic growth and employment? Can it bring tangible benefits to local residents and ultimately receive a return several times or even more than ten times the investment? I believe the answer is, Yes.

China respects the real needs of developing countries. The long-term preferential loan provided by China, with low interest rate, has no political conditions attached.

The only purpose of China is to provide developing countries with tangible benefits, and to build a community with a shared future for mankind, such as this road that enables pedestrians and goods to travel on. This Project proves that the government of Jamaica has never forgotten the eastern parishes, and the Jamaican people indeed have extremely strategic and far-sighted leaders!

Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica, standing on the new leg of the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project

Hence, let me extend my sincerest congratulations to the Government and people of Jamaica on their journey to prosperity and happiness on such a magnificent road as the Southern Coastal  Highway! May China-Jamaica friendship last forever! 

This Friday will be the Chinese Spring Festival. I wish you all a happy Chinese New Year and good luck in the year of Dragon!


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