Jamaica Govt. blocks regulator from investigating CJIA contractor
The Jamaican Government has gone to court to block an investigation into three major infrastructural projects, including a US$600M one with China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC).
CHEC is the Chinese-owned company which has been contracted to rebuild the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
The Office of the Contractor General (OCG), which is the regulatory body in Jamaica, mandated to overlook and monitor government contracts had been battling the administration there over the US$600M North-South Toll Highway Project.
According to OCG, the project never went to tender and the negotiation process has been under questions.
OCG is currently preparing a response to the legal action brought against it by the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing concerning the controversial Independent Oversight Panel (IOP) established by the Ministry to oversee three major development projects.
The OCG is being represented by Queens Counsel Jacqueline Samuels-Brown and the response is expected to be filed before the matter comes up for hearing on July 10.
The Ministry is seeking Judicial Review of the Contractor General’s decision to monitor and investigate the IOP, which Cabinet set up in April to oversee the negotiation process of the North-South Toll Highway Project, the Fort Augusta Port Project and the Gordon Cay Expansion Project.
According to documents filed in the Supreme Court over a week ago, the Ministry will also be seeking an interlocutory injunction restraining the Contractor General from continuing to monitor and investigate the activities of the panel and from taking steps against the members of the panel for failure to comply with request for information. If granted, the injunction will remain in place pending the outcome of the application for Judicial Review.
The Ministry is also seeking to prevent Contractor General Greg Christie from issuing any further media releases in respect of the “establishment and activities of the IOP”, pending the outcome of the hearing.
China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) and its subsidiary CHEC recently signed the Concession Agreement to fully fund the US$600-million North/South link of the toll road which had been stalled for several years.
CHEC came under fire in Guyana since November last year after it was revealed in Jamaican press that Guyana had signed a deal secretly to expand the airport. It was only after the deal was signed and it was reported in Jamaica, that Guyana learnt of it.
CHEC recently held a press conference in Guyana to defend several reports of corruption in a number of countries including Bangladesh, China and the Philippines.