THE Government and the National Works Agency (NWA) have moved to allay fears, mainly voiced on social media, about the purpose of the trenches being dug along the sides of several main roads in the Corporate Area.
In an interview with the Jamaica Observer two weeks ago, minister with responsibility for information Robert Morgan said the trenches were being dug as part of efforts by the Government to bolster its broadband network.
He said the work is being done through a collaborative effort between the NWA and e-Gov Jamaica to build out GovNet, which is the platform that will provide a secure network for all ministries, departments and agencies.
According to Morgan, GovNet will also support the provision of shared corporate services as well as enable data sharing and online communication among Government entities.
“There is nothing sinister. As a matter of fact, this is a good opportunity for people to know what we are doing and I am very happy that you are asking the questions because a lot of people would have seen the work being done and while the information was released years ago about the GovNet project, I suspect that now that it has started people want to know what’s happening,” Morgan told the Observer.
He said the initiative forms part of the Government’s resilience plan and will seek to ensure connectivity where rapid response and reliable connection will be paramount.
“The current project, which is to connect four core entities — e-Gov, the Ministry of Finance, the NWA, and the Jamaica Urban Transit Company Ashenheim Road depot — will cost about $140 million and nine other entities are going to be connected after these four main centres are done.”
Morgan said people who are concerned that the trenches have been dug across the entrance to their properties can rest assured that they will be filled and repaved as part of the project.
The issue was also addressed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness during his presentation at the public session of the Jamaica Labour Party’s 80th Annual Conference just over one week ago.
“When you drive around Kingston you see them digging up some roads, laying some cables, that is bringing in some more broadband so that all public sector entities can be on the Internet so that you can access them virtually,” said Holness.
“We are putting in the new broadband system where we are going to increase broadband Internet access all over Jamaica,” added Holness who touted the project as part of his Administration’s commitment to ‘Building Jamaica Stronger’.
In a release late last week the NWA said the work is slated for completion by the end of this year.
“The work, which is being done in phases, include the laying of some 32 kilometres of fibre optic cables along nine corridors in Kingston and St Andrew that will link the Government’s four core sites,” said NWA’s Manager, Communication and Customer Services Stephen Shaw.
He noted that the project involves trenching and laying of pipes along several major roadways including Hope Road, Old Hope Road, Wellington Drive, Tom Redcam Drive, and Spanish Town Road.
According to Shaw, the reinstatement of some critical corridors such as Hope Road and Old Hope Road has already begun.
“The work now being done comes against the background of the COVID pandemic where several Government institutions were either closed or had their operations significantly reduced. The network is expected to make the work of Government easier and to ensure connectivity during cases of emergency,” added Shaw.