Holness says he is 'working, working, working'

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness says he will be “working, working, working” as the summer draws to a close.

Holness made the point that, for at least the time being, he will be sticking to making his presence felt only at assignments such as Monday's signing of the contracts to start the US$195-million Harbour View to Port Antonio leg of the massive Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP) at Jamaica House.

However, he says it should not be interpreted as him being missing in action, because he will actually be “working, working, working”.

“You are only going to see me these days at these events. Either I am about to sign the contract, either we are breaking ground or we are handing over the keys, or we are opening the road, or the bridge or whatever it is,” he told the gathering.

“A former prime minister would say, 'I am working, working, working'. So, ladies and gentlemen, your Government is working, working, working,” he said, copying one of the themes from former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller's last term in office (2011-2016).

But, after he welcomed Opposition Member of Parliament Dr Fenton Ferguson (St Thomas Eastern) to the signing, Holness, in an obvious reference to the current rivalry for the leadership of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP), warned that the country is now in what he described as the “silly season”.

“I tell you, leave that alone, because we are in the season for silly things to be said and done. I wouldn't want the infrastructure programme that has been developed to be derailed by any political side,” he stated.

“It is in the national interest that both political parties should commit to ensuring that we move ahead with the infrastructure project, because that is what is going to be the base for our growth, that is the critical element here for the economy,” he said.

The prime minister also assured the gathering that he had heard the complaints of motorists and commuters, especially those who have to use the thoroughfares that are under construction, about the work ethic and indiscipline of the contractors, and the supervision of the works by the National Works Agency (NWA).

“It has not gone on deaf ears; I'm paying very close attention to it,” he said.

Holness also pointed out that, while local contractors have complained about big construction companies like China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) getting all the work, there was a question as to whether they are making the investments in their own construction companies, necessary to create the management and the level of engineering that is needed.

“Holding the managers in your companies to account, sticking to deadlines, and respecting the right of the public to enjoy the thoroughfare, even if it is under construction,” he added.

He said that the process to change the culture of contractors would, therefore, begin with the nation's engineering agency — the NWA — to “start putting in place the rules”.

The SCHIP is aimed at spending some US$195 million to link Harbour View in St Andrew with Port Antonio, Portland, and a further US$189 million to link with the toll road just outside of May Pen to Williamsfield, Manchester, at which point a decision will be taken as to how it will eventually be linked with the major road system heading into Westmoreland.


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