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'FIX THE ROADS!'

MPs urged to fix roads

BY BALFORD HENRY
Observer senior reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 22, 2021

E G Hunter, CEO of National Works Agency (NWA), is appealing to all Members of Parliament (MPs) who have failed to start road-patching programmes to do so now.

Hunter said he was aware that, of the 63 MPs in the House of Representatives, only 22 per cent of them have utilised the provisions. He said that another 27 MPs have started but have not completed their projects, while 12 have not started any work under the programme.

“I would encourage those MPs who have not yet started their patching work to move with some speed, so that we can at least bring some relief to the travelling public in that regard,” Hunter told yesterday's meeting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) which reviewed the Third Supplementary Estimates for 2020/21 at Gordon House.

The Government had announced in November that a $1-billion programme had been implemented for all 63 MPs to effect repairs to some of the road network severely damaged by heavy rains associated with tropical storms Zeta and Eta.

Each MP was granted $15 million. The funds formed part of a $2.3-billion package to the NWA, which is managing the programme.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness had asked that the funds be spent as follows: $7 million for road patching; $2 million for cleaning drains and gullies; $4 million for de-bushing; and $2 million for beautification, sanitation, and removal of garbage.

PAAC Chairman Mikael Phillips said the news was not encouraging for his colleagues in the House of Representatives or for the general public.

“I join you in imploring those MPs to get on with it forthwith, because that is only $441 million out of a billion-dollar budget that you had,” Phillips said.

Hunter also announced that some $200 million has been budgeted for repairs to the Gordon Town Road, which would basically be used for mobilising a contractor to do the work. However, he said the project could take some seven to eight months to be completed after its start.

He said that, while the Savage Road alternative should be completed by the end of the month, he was cautioning the travelling public that it is not a corridor for drag racing and other forms of “fearless” driving.

“Whoever is going to use this corridor must do so with the greatest of caution,” Hunter warned.