A Chinese engineering company has signed a contract with the government of Jamaica to build a new cargo shipping hub, foreseen to create up to 10,000 jobs.
The planned hub to be located southwest from Jamaica’s capital Kingston should enable faster distribution of container cargo mainly from China throughout the Caribbean region.
China Harbour Engineering Co (CHEC), contracted to carry out the development and construction, foresees the project will take up to five years to complete.
Despite promises of Jamaica’s government the construction will create more than 2,000 job opportunities with the hub itself, once finished, employing about 10,000 people, the project remains largely controversial.
Environment-protection groups oppose the construction as the area of the development, known as the Goat Islands, is home to many species of insects and small reptiles. It also serves as a breeding ground for fish and other marine species.
However, Jamaica’s government reassured the public it takes environmental concerns into account.
"We treasure the preservation of the environment as much as any other group, and we are concerned about the human beings and the plight of poverty, and the impact which that has on the environment," the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) quoting Omar Davies, the cabinet minister responsible for the development, as saying at a private signing ceremony last weekend.
"A project which does not harm the environment, and will improve people's living standards, must be explored," Davies was quoted as saying, calling the deal a "win-win situation".
CHEC is a global contractor with 50 overseas branches and is a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Co (CCCC).