Jamaica - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Jamaica enjoys an extensive though aging infrastructure which has received much government attention in the 1990s. The small island is served by a network of over 18,700 kilometers (11,620 miles) of roads, 13,100 kilometers (8,140 miles) of which are paved. With growing numbers of licensed automobiles in the 1990s, the road system, especially in urban areas, has become highly congested. A major highway development project between Montego Bay and Negril began in 1999, but has since been suspended because of financial problems experienced by the contractor.

The nation's rail system is troubled—in 1992 the state-owned Jamaica Railway Corporation ceased operation and the few operating rail lines are used only for

Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations b Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Jamaica 353,000 (1996) 54,640 (1996) AM 10; FM 13; shortwave 0 1,215 M 7 460,000 21 60,000
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
Cuba 473,031 (2000) 2,994 AM 169; FM 55; shortwave 1 3.9 M 58 2.64 M 4 (2001) 60,000
St. Lucia 37,000 1,600 AM 2, FM 7, shortwave 0 (1998) 111,000 3 32,000 15 5,000
a Data is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
b Data is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
c Data is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

transporting bauxite and alumina—but the government is pursuing efforts to modernize the country's railways. An Indian agency responsible for the rehabilitation of track line, locomotives, and stations, and the acquisition of new technology and equipment is working to improve Jamaica's rail service. In addition, the government announced upcoming commuter services from Kingston to Spanish Town and Linstead in early 2001.

Jamaica has 2 major airports: the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, both of which are quite modern. The latter was slated for privatization by the end of 2000. Ten major airlines provide service to Jamaica, and are responsible for carrying many of the country's tourists. The ports of Kingston and Montego Bay are world-class sea ports; in fact, the port of Kingston was estimated to be the seventh largest transshipment port (a port in which goods arrive to be distributed by other means) in the world, according to the EIU Country Profile for 1997-98. However, Jamaica has lost some international shipping business due to the high cost of shipping operations in the country.

Electrical power is supplied to Jamaicans by the state-owned Jamaica Public Service Company, which has the capacity to produce 656.2 megawatts of power. Because the nation has no natural fuel reserves, over 95 percent of the country's power is generated from imported fuel oil, which accounted for 15 percent of all imports in 1996. Though generally reliable, the 110-volt power system has been subject to occasional power shortages and blackouts.

Telecommunications services in Jamaica are thoroughly modern. Telephone service is provided by Cable and Wireless of Jamaica Limited; although Cable and Wireless held a monopoly at the beginning of the 21st century, the government allowed for domestic competition in 2001, with plans for the market to be fully competitive by 2003. In addition, 2 foreign companies bought licenses to introduce mobile phone service to the country: Cellular One Caribbean, a St. Maarten-based U.S. company, and Mossel Limited, an Irish firm. According to the EIU Country Profile for 1997-98, the country had 331,816 telephone lines and was adding new lines at the rate of 60,000 a year. In 1999 the country also had 6 Internet service providers.

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