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Local gov't minister says parochial roads will be repaired

Thursday, November 09, 2017

WESTMORELAND, Jamaica — Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, says the Government will be undertaking a comprehensive rehabilitation programme to “significantly tackle parochial roads across the country” that are in disrepair.

Addressing a property tax town hall meeting at the Sean Lavery Faith Hall in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, yesterday, McKenzie said that of the total number of roadways across the country, the local authorities and the ministry have responsibility for 22,000 kilometres.

He said while the Government is mindful of the condition of the roads across the country, many of the island's thoroughfares have been severely impacted by residents who, ironically, are themselves demonstrating for better road conditions.  

He urged citizens to use whatever legal means to protest as they see fit, as long as these techniques do not “make matters worse” where the roads are concerned, such as the burning of tyres and other debris.  

“We understand that persons are hurting.   Motor vehicles are going through some rough times, and I want to say we are not against people demonstrating for better roads and whatever you feel is your right to demonstrate [for], but do it in a way that does not dislocate and create problems,” McKenzie urged.

“When you burn tyres and do all the other things, if the cost to repair the road was a million dollars before, after you have finished demonstrating, it is going to cost much more than a million dollars,” he pointed out.

The minister said he has indicated to the island's municipal corporations that the practice of using limestone (marl) as a road-patching medium is not only inefficient, but is also a waste of resources and should be discontinued.

“I have said to all the municipal corporations that it makes no sense you spend scarce dollars now in throwing some marl on the road and rain washes it out, and then two days after, you hear people saying that you gave your political cronies some work and you are wasting taxpayers' money.  It makes no sense,” McKenzie said.

“We are going to tackle the road problems.  The Government will move to ensure that we pay attention to the concerns right across the country, not just from those who are demonstrating but [also] there is a genuine need for us to tackle the problems of roads across the country,” the minister said.