Too much build it first... plan later?

Friday, September 20, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Carpets, commotion and chaos; the current state of so-called development and infrastructural works in the Corporate Area brings so many C's to mind, which is the exact rating most citizens would ascribe to the planning and execution of construction being undertaken.

With issues of pedestrian facilitation, water distribution, traffic, parking, as well as the impact on businesses and other interest constantly arising in the midst of the construction, even as it nears completion, one has to seriously question the ability of the Government of Jamaica, specifically the National Work Agency (NWA) to plan and coordinate these massive projects.

One expects that no plan is fully fault-proof and situations will arise in the actual implementation that could cause disturbance, but, unfortunately, this is not the common situation unfolding with the NWA. Rather, there are just blatant holes in their concepts and continued disregard of variables that seem obvious to the untrained eye. But could these holes have been dealt in the initial planning if there was more appreciation for inclusive participation in these processes, rather than a 'bulldoze by night' approach?

Far too many times we have seen work done have to be correct due to negative impacts on communities. There has to be full representation from conception to execution when we speak of infrastructure 'development'. Sections of society will interact with these developments in different ways, including the elderly, the disabled and children. We have practised a very generalised way of building without much input from those who will be affected to the detriment of their road safety, like narrow sidewalks without ramps.

On the flip side, representation may also be apart of our problem. We know all to well Members of Parliament and political officials lobbying constantly for timely infrastructural improvements to tag as “legacy projects” hoping to increase their likelihood of re-election from claiming credit. But then the twist of the wrist of NWA officials and their well-paid contractors leads to botched and lousy work to meet the election deadlines.

How could we ever be satisfied with our tax dollars supporting a process that places more emphasis on construction for construction sake, without proper planning and coordination? The heavy spending on roadwork is not just about giving the people a carpet, but their is waste and inefficiencies happening that must be corrected.

Mario Boothe

m.raphael.b@gmail.com


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