UWI partners with CHEC to build civil engineering lab
The University of the West Indies (UWI) has signed a cooperation agreement with the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) to construct a civil engineering laboratory at its western Jamaica campus in St James.
The lab will be utilised for material testing for the duration of the Montego Bay Road Perimeter Road Project (MBPRP), it will also serve as a training facility for engineering students of UWI and its academic staff.
During the groundbreaking ceremony for the US$274.5 million road project in July last year, Prime Minister Andrew Holness charged CHEC to train locals to fulfil its obligation of hiring 50 per cent local workers.
In this regard, the Chinese company signed a memorandum of understanding with the HEART/NSTA Trust to train and certify skilled workers.
Speaking at the signing ceremony at the UWI Mona on Tuesday, Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica Chen Daojiang said this partnership with the university is an “upgrade” of CHEC’s commitment to the Government. The ambassador said this also highlights Chinese business’ sense of responsibility for Jamaica, and synchronises with the Holness administration’s mission of building more STEM schools in Jamaica.
“China and Jamaica are both developing countries, both the Chinese government and Chinese companies would love to offer support to Jamaica in reigniting a nation for greatness,” he said.
Deputy dean in the faculty of engineering at the UWI, Dr Nicholas McMorris, also noted the shared interest that CHEC and the UWI have in regional employment and economic development, which he said is the impetus for this project.
UWI’s Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal, Professor Dale Webber, said the lab will aid in the growth of the western campus as it will now be able to facilitate a niche.
“We are not trying to replicate Mona in the West, we want the west to grow its own niche; so construction engineering, construction management and engineering ... whether its civil, construction that’s gonna be part of the niche that grows our western Jamaica campus,” he said.
CHEC country manager, Dangran Bi, says through this collaboration CHEC “intends to pass a considerable amount of our engineering expertise on to students, local contractors and other interested persons as we have consistently done within Jamaica and the countries where we operate”.
It is this kind of commitment that Robert Morgan, minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) with responsibility for Information, says is ideal for academia and industry which facilitates the transfer of knowledge.
“By investing in the education and training of our students, fostering the transfer of knowledge between countries and demonstrating corporate social responsibility, CHEC and the UWI are setting an example for other companies and countries, and universities to follow,” he said.
Meanwhile, Homer Davis, who is the minister of state in the OPM with responsibility for special projects, said that the technical work has already started and land acquisition exercise is already under way for the commencement of the MBPRP.
“Montego Bay remains the economic capital of Jamaica and long-standing issues such as traffic congestion, and flooding which have negatively impacted growth and development will be eliminated when this project is completed,” he said.