Government axes roadwork budget


Government axes roadwork budget

Observer senior reporter

Friday, May 29, 2020

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AS a result of the devastating effects of the novel coronavirus on Jamaica's economy, the Government has slashed its allocation to roadworks under the Greater Infrastructure Development Programme (GIDP) by more than $10 billion.

According to the First Supplementary Estimates for 2020/21, the cuts include: a $6.6 billion reduction in the $13 billion initially allocated for the Portland leg of the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP); a reduction from $$3.8 billion to $600 million for the 15-kilometre, four-lane carriageway from Ironshore to Bogue; and a complete removal of the $400 million budget for the Rural Road Rehabilitation Project, which covers Manchester, Clarendon, and Trelawny.

“We have encountered the most threatening pandemic in 100 years, and the most severe global economic recession in 90 years. It is for that reason, and that reason only, that this revision will be necessary,” Finance and Public Service Minister Nigel Clarke told Parliament in his opening marks at the tabling of the supplementary budget recently.

“Deviation from the programmed target given the current circumstances is unavoidable,” he continued, adding that Jamaica is facing the most significant economic challenge in its history.

According to Clarke, the COVID-19 pandemic will have a $120-billion impact on Jamaica.

As of yesterday morning, the virus had claimed the lives of nine people while 564 have tested positive.

The proposed roadwork was aimed at reduced congestion and improve travel times.

In March, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said his Administration was in the process of developing the bypass for Port Antonio, which was Jamaica's first resort town, which had become very congested and its development stunted by that congestion.

He said that there were plans for bypasses for Lucea and Hopewell in Hanover, Long Hill and Anchovy in St James, as well as Annotto Bay and Port Maria in St Mary.

In addition, the programme included the extension and improvement works for the traffic-heavy Mandela Highway, from the East-West Toll Road ramp to the Old Harbour roundabout, and improvements to Spanish Town Road in Kingston from Six Miles to Three Miles and from Three Miles to Darling Street in downtown Kingston.

“We are going to do Lady Musgrave to East King's Road that is always a congested area (and) we are going to be doing an extension to Dunrobin,” he said.

The Prime Minister noted, however, that the GIDP is not just a roadworks programme but a true integrated infrastructure programme incorporating road development, water and wastewater, drainage, bridges, sidewalks, street lighting, telecommunications, and sensors.

He said that these are nation-building projects that will increase the capacity for expansion of the countryside into new areas for development, by reducing traffic congestion and improving resilience.

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