NWA has become enemy of the State

NWA has become enemy of the State

Friday, October 30, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Since the dismantling of the parish councils in the 1980s, especially with the replacement of the Public Works Department (PWD) with the National Works Agency (NWA), millions of dollars of taxpayers' money have been wasted each year on reconstruction of roads that were repaired the previous year.

One is led to believe that, in the creation of the NWA, the then Government didn't include learned engineers who had knowledge of Jamaica's geological terrain.

In a 2018 article, 'Engineers' angle — Asphalt vs concrete roads, cost, care and convenience', John Algrove, a former executive engineer employed at the PWD between 1962-1969, pointed out how “the PWD started to rebuild and realign roads with 'engineered' foundations and asphalt concrete surfaces”, and that “in many areas, the PWD was able to resurface the road without reconstructing the base...” ( The Gleaner, May 9, 2018)

Algrove further shared that, “There are 5,500 miles of National Works Agency roads, and about the same amount of parish council roads, most of which are not main roads, and these are where we have our major road issues.”

What are these issues?

He identified them as roads “in the non-limestone areas, where rainfall is often high, soil conditions are poor, drains block easily, and landslides happen frequently”.

Additionally, “With such a great mileage of secondary and tertiary roads, we need a cheaper solution than asphaltic concrete surfacing.” He also offered a recommendation to the current “gravy and pepper” (spray and chip) method used by the NWA, that is the use of marl as based with the added gravel and tar on top.

“...There is a system available (micro-surfacing) using premixed materials, which produces a much better quality and a more durable 'spray and chip' solution but more costly than traditional spray and chip. This needs to be pursued more vigorously.”

It should be noted that the current application of the NWA's use of marl as foundation is very inadequate, plus their neglect of proper drainage, in comparison to what the former PWD included in its road constructions.

Another impediment to the NWA is the fact that both political parties have used the agency as “gravy trains” to enforce the 'eat a food culture' and channels of corruption.

It is a shame that, after 34 years, the NWA still operates like ancient cave dwellers, unaware that Jamaica once had properly constructed roads using the Macadam method — a basic knowledge once taught in our nation's primary schools.

I have also come to the conclusion that the NWA has become an enemy of the State, not only with the annual drama of washed out roads, but their lack of conscience in the wastage of scarce financial resources that should have been spent on our nation's education and health sectors.

Dudley C McLean II

Mandeville, Manchester


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