My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How Herzog's US$500 million Jamaican Railway Plans threatened by Highway 2000 and Squatters


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How Herzog's US$500 million Jamaican Railway Plans threatened by Highway 2000 and Squatters

“The plan is to have the trains up and running in December. That is the view of Minister Mike Henry. Herzog is in Jamaica now doing preliminary work to do the resuscitation”

Communications Department at the Ministry of Transport, Vando Palmer on Wednesday April 20th 2016

Looks like the railways are coming in December 2016 after all as Minister of Transport and Works Mike Henry has promised.

United States-based Herzog International has plans to fix the railway tracks to launch a downtown Kingston to Linstead journey on the trains as reported in the article “Herzog Set To Resuscitate 207 Km Of Jamaican Rail”, published Sunday April 24, 2016 by Steven Jackson, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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The Jamaican Government, then led by the PNP (People's National Party) received a revised plan from United States-based Herzog International in December 2015. This plan involves:

1.      Fixing nearly two-thirds of Jamaica's rail network
2.      Restarting the Railway service targeted by December 2016
3.      Initial Launch of downtown Kingston to Linstead leg by September 2016

This turns out to be some 207 kilometres of the 334.9km rail track as stated in the Fiscal Policy Paper 2016-17, quote: “Herzog has undertaken necessary due diligence, and at December 2015, the company submitted a revised business plan to rehabilitate approximately 207 kilometres of the 334.9km rail track. The work will be undertaken on a phased basis”.

Hopefully this will include seating and railway cars made out of Bamboo and come with free Wi-Fi as predicted in my blog article entitled “How Mike Henry's Railway Revival means Wi-Fi and Bamboo Train Carriage seats by September 2016”. 

Herzog International Inc and the Jamaican Railway Network - How US$500 million investment may be derailed by Highway 2000 and Squatters

It’s good to note at this point that the Railway's revival isn't a PNP or JLP Proposal; both political parties have floated this idea in one way or another.

In fact, Herzog International Inc had been negotiating with the Jamaican Government and had plans to privately invest some US$500 million in the Jamaican Railway Corporation as noted in the article “Henry rails Government over train service”, published Monday, January 04, 2016, The Jamaica Observer.

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The real problem is the compensation of some 2000 squatters who live on lands owned by the Jamaica Railway Corporation. They are Jamaican citizens too and have to be compensated, especially if they've been on the land longer than 12 years and can furnish documents to prove this as noted in the article “How To Apply For Title By Adverse Possession”, Published Monday December 15, 2014 by Sherry Ann McGregor, The Jamaica Gleaner.

However, there is no problem with the developement of the Railway as it relates to the Highway 2000 Project. Despite an agreement to not build any other modes of transportation that would compete with the highway due to the concession agreement for Highway 2000, the DBJ (Development Bank of Jamaica) says that this isn't an issue.

In fact, they point out that any in highway revenues that can be attributed to any new transportation system that give people an option to the Highway would result in the Government of Jamaica compensating the High operators.

The level of compensation would be determined by the an independent traffic adviser mutually agreed between the National Road Operating and Construction Company that represents the Jamaican Government and TransJamaican Highway, the developer and concessionaire for Highway 2000.

This was considered recently when improvements wee being considered to improve the Mandela Highway ability to handle traffic and flooding due to rains as noted in the article “Mandela Highway Upgrade Could Trigger H2K Compensation”, published Sunday November 1, 2015 by McPherse Thompson, The Jamaica Gleaner.

It'll be interesting to see if their plans to launch by December 2016 will be achieved. And hopefully, with free Wi-Fi and Bamboo Train Carriage seats for a trial run in of the downtown Kingston to Linstead leg by September 2016!

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