THE Government is to embark on a massive road rehabilitation programme across the island but Prime Minister Andrew Holness has not said how much money will be spent to do the repairs.
"Your Administration has built more roads and repaired more miles of roads than any other Administration has done in the history of modern Jamaica," Holness told a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Central Executive meeting on Sunday at Moon Palace Resort in St Ann, where he also pointed to the highway projects completed or now underway.
He told the cheering Labourities that he has noticed protests over bad roads, "some of which are not organic" in recent time.
"I pay close attention to them, because whether or not it is orchestrated or a naturally occurring protest we still listen to the voice of our people and, if a road is a concern for a community, the Government must pay attention to it," added Holness.
He said he is well aware that there are many communities across the island where, since they were created, the roads have not been addressed.
"Some people will tell you that the road has not been repaired in 30 years. I have gone to places where they say from the community was established the road has never been fixed; and those persons are frustrated and they may very well feel slighted to see us opening these lovely highways while their road...which they drive on every day, is unrepaired.
"So, as the Government, and as we execute our policy of building highways to prosperity, we must ensure that the highway is not just passing in close proximity, or moves people who are already on faster, but to get to that last mile [of road] to that rural community; that must be our commitment as a Government," added Holness.
In what he said was a direct message to residents who are frustrated about the roads in their communities, Holness declared that the Government is now in a fiscal position to treat the repair of roads as a priority.
"We are in a position to make a budgetary allocation of a reasonable size, in a systematic way, to address the roads problem," Holness said to loud applause.
"It is because your Government, in the first term, focused heavily on fixing the economic engine of the country.
"I am aware that there are many protests that are being orchestrated, and we know some people are being paid to do this. And when I see the roads that they are protesting about, I go back and I search the Internet and I search the newspapers...and during the time when the Opposition was in power those roads were being protested about...and those roads were in a deplorable state, and they were never repaired," said Holness.
"It is an important point to note that protests regarding road conditions in Jamaica is nothing new because that has been the state of our roads for more than 30 years," added Holness.
He argued that the only way any Government could fix the many bad roads in Jamaica is by solving the country's economic challenges.
"I am not telling you that we have solved all our economic problems, but it is certainly a good position to be in when one of the leading rating agencies can say, 'You know what, after COVID, still in recovery, your performance is deserving of an upgrade'," Holness said to more applause.
"We are only in this position because we have managed the economy well, so [much so] that the Opposition can now say, 'Spend on this, spend on that. Do this, why you don't do this?' Well, you couldn't do it, and you had to borrow to do it, and still you never do it. And that is why people trust us more to get things done and...we must recognise that and we must get things done," Holness told the cheering Labourities.