Faced with the challenge of no direct route to St Thomas after the Hope Bridge collapsed nearly three weeks ago, Caribbean Cement Company says it will this week transport cement to the eastern end of the island using the sea.
The Hope Bridge collapsed during Tropical Storm Gustav three weeks ago.
The shipment will also provide a testing ground for intra-island cargo movement using the coastal waters of Jamaica, according to the cement manufacturer’s general manager Anthony Haynes, as the Rockfort-based company is in discussion with manufacturers located in the east end of the island who are looking at the possibility of sending back product to Kingston on the same barge that will carry the cement.
"We are talking to two entities that have expressed interest in shipping back," was all Haynes would share with the Business Observer on the possible venture. But the cost of moving goods via the sea is yet to be established.
The barge will carry the equivalent of 40 truckloads of cement in one trip, but estimates made by the cement manufacturer places the time to ship the cargo at 12 hours.
Upon reaching the port in Bowden, St Thomas - a facility located in Morant Bay - the cement will be taken by a number of agents located in the parish, who will store the cement.
The empty vessel would have to return to Kingston, so the St Thomas-based businessmen are hoping to benefit from loading the barge destined for the capital city with their goods.
They, like Carib Cement, have been without a direct thoroughfare between St Thomas and Kingston, since the Hope Bridge in Harbour View collapsed after winds and rains associated from Tropical Storm Gustav battered the island at the end of August.
National Works Agency, (NWA) in collaboration with the Jamaica Defence Force, installed a Bailey bridge to accommodate pedestrian and light vehicular traffic. But heavy duty equipment, such as trucks are disallowed from using the bridge for at least another 15 months until the permanent bridge is built.
To facilitate heavy vehicular traffic, the NWA is preparing a temporary road through the river itself, although heavy rains may make the temporary road unusable.
The option to use coastal waters for cargo transportation is seen as a favourable alternative because it is also more "environmentally friendly" and less taxing on the island’s road infrastructure.