Member of Parliament for St Thomas Eastern, Dr Michelle Charles is calling for the removal of the sub-contractors from package four of the South Coast Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP).
The sub-contractors–NF Barnes Construction & Equipment Company Limited and Kinetic Engineering Services–are answerable to the main contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC), on the multibillion-dollar project.
Residents of the communities of Leith Hall and Lyssons mounted roadblocks in August and September over the ongoing roadworks. The roadblocks inconvenienced residents travelling to or from communities such as Bath, Port Morant and Dalvey.
The segment of the two-phase SCHIP comprises 15 packages and runs from Harbour View in St Andrew to Port Antonio, Portland and from Morant Bay to Cedar Valley in St Thomas. The other segment runs from May Pen, Clarendon to Williamsfield in Manchester.
Charles made the call for the sub-contractors to be sacked while making her contribution to the 2022/23 state of the constituency debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
She noted that the roadworks started one year before she was elected to the House in September 2020.
“The progress has been slow, and the maintenance and protection of the traffic way extremely uncomfortable and downright disrespectful to the people of St Thomas Eastern,” she began.
She noted that in her state of the constituency contribution last year, she reminded her constituents that “we are uncomfortably under construction and pleaded for their understanding while I negotiated with the contractors”.
“I invited the member from St Catherine South West (Everald Warmington, who is the minister with responsibility for works) to tour our road, and he came. He evaluated the progress of the roadwork and made his recommendations. The prime minister has met with the same contractors as well. My people have demonstrated, I have negotiated, and we are still left frustrated. After three years, I can no longer ask them to be patient,” Charles told the House.
She added: “I want to inform this Honourable House that I will always stand with the people of St Thomas Eastern. The people of St Thomas Eastern have spoken, and I am here to deliver the message: We, the people of St Thomas Eastern, are calling for the immediate removal of the sub-contractors, NF Barnes Construction & Equipment Company Limited and Kinetic Engineering Services. We call upon the chief contractors, China Harbour Engineering Company Limited to completely take over the daily operations of the roadwork of package four in St Thomas Eastern.”
Charles said the poor condition of the road and slow progress of the work can no longer be tolerated.
“We trust that CHEC will expedite the work in a manner that is acceptable to all. The people of St Thomas Eastern are holding me accountable, and the contractors must be held accountable as well,” she said.
Meanwhile, Charles said the people of St Thomas Eastern welcome the road improvement works. However, she lamented that the dust nuisance was causing health problems.
“Our hospital, our schools, our churches, the vendors, and our residents are along the main road, and I get calls every day. I get daily complaints from the doctors, the nurses, the residents, the patients, the business community, everybody, even the teachers have demonstrated,” said Charles.
“Traversing our main roads in St Thomas is extremely difficult, and very frustrating and hard on our pockets. Wi car frontend lick out, middle-end lick out, backend lick out. Chassis twist, rack and pinion gawn, shocks nah shock again,” she added.