IMAJ demands clear development plan for the Corporate Area
The simultaneous construction of several high-rise buildings across the Corporate Area has raised concerns among members of the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association of Jamaica (IMAJ), who are calling on the Government to present a clear plan for the city’s development.
“The concern is that we have not seen a clear vision, a clear plan for the development of what we call our urban spaces. We don’t see an overarching plan to say, okay, fine, our immediate concern is Kingston, how is Kingston to be developed? What zones are you going in with high-rises first? What zones are you restricting because you want order?” said IMAJ President Lenworth Kelly.
He added: “You don’t want one to pop up here, one down there. There needs to be some order to it and we are not seeing that order. If that plan exists, it has not been sold. Nobody appreciates and understands it and we think that development, when you going high-rise, should follow in a systematic way to allow you to bring the necessary infrastructure with it.”
The IMAJ president was speaking to The Gleaner on Thursday after presenting at the 2nd International Built Environment Conference at the University of Technology, Jamaica in Papine, St Andrew.
Kelly has also commented on the approval of projects across the Kingston and St Andrew metropolitan area.
“Where it concerns approvals, say in Kingston, it’s the KSAMC (Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation), you kind of want to be careful because you have a lot of people who build without permits, and if you build without a permit, then the KSAMC or the planning authority can shut that down.
“By law they can, because you ought not to build without a permit. So we don’t want to see that everything you see being built is some underhanded thing with the local planning authority. We can’t say that. However, there is anecdotal evidence that some developments seem to go through easier than others,” he said.
Meanwhile, the IMAJ president reiterated his call for the Government to offer them the same concessions afforded to foreign construction companies so that they can be more competitive.
“CHEC (China Harbour Engineering Company), for one, certainly gets a range of exemptions. They get duty-free, tax-free [imports] for equipment, for materials and a range of things. They can bring new technology.
“All we are asking the Government to do is to level the playing field. Give us also some of those benefits so we can retool, we can equip, and we can compete. Don’t ask us to operate at the level of a CHEC when we don’t get the benefits CHEC gets. You tie our hands behind us and tell us to run the race, too. It doesn’t quite work that way,” Kelly said.
In 2012, the Government and CHEC signed a 50-year concession agreement for work to begin on the North-South leg of Highway 2000.