Warmington set on Gov't taking responsibility for housing scheme roadsWednesday, July 28, 2021
BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior Government minister Everald Warmington has promised to go back to Cabinet for a decision to ensure that responsibility for upkeep and rehabilitation of roads and other infrastructure in housing schemes falls squarely in the lap of the Government, and not developers.
Warmington, the minister in charge of works, gave the undertaking last week at the first town hall meeting hosted by the joint select committee considering a proposal to make Portmore Jamaica's 15th parish.
Residents had raised the issue of rundown roads and other infrastructure plaguing some schemes in the municipality.
“The issue is that the local authorities require developers to put funds aside for a period for that local authority to repair those roads, but there is no obligation on the part of the local authority or the Government to take over those roads, as the law is right now. When those funds are exhausted, that's where it's left,” Warmington said.
He noted that in 2012, while in Opposition, he had brought a private member's motion to Parliament seeking to have Government and its departments take responsibility for all housing scheme roads at the point when the first title is issued, making central Government responsible for all infrastructure from there on.
However, he said what was approved was an amended motion.
“During the debate the then minister, Bobby Pickersgill, asked for an amendment to the resolution, where it said to take over to make those roads and infrastructure liveable for the people in those schemes. Pickersgill asked that I amend the resolution for it to be passed — because their Government had more [seats in Parliament] than us in Opposition — not to make the roads liveable, but to repair them when funds are available. So it means 50 years down the road the Government can say there are no funds available,” he argued.
He said the motion was approved by the House but stalled when it got to Cabinet. “It went to the Cabinet and what they did, instead of taking the decision, they sent it to the Ministry of Local Government under [Noel] Arscott [the then local government minister]for them to review it and send back a report to Cabinet. The Cabinet secretary wrote to Mrs Cooke [clerk to the Houses of Parliament] with a copy of what the decision of Cabinet was [but] it never went back to Cabinet,” he recalled.
Warmington said he pursued the matter, asking for the Cabinet decision to be sent to the works ministry, but the matter was never addressed. “And this is why these housing schemes are without someone being responsible. I intend to raise the issue at Cabinet, that it be revived, and Government takes on this responsibility, because people buy houses and you talk about not having responsibility for them when they're paying taxes for the property,” he stated.
He assured residents that the works ministry intends to make significant investments in road infrastructure in Portmore this fiscal year under a special programme.
In May, the works minister announced a slew of upcoming multimillion-dollar road infrastructure projects targeting Portmore, including work on the Braeton Road to Hellshire Main Road and Grange Lane, in St Catherine, as well as widening of the corridor from Braeton to Hellshire from Naggo Head. Over $500,000 worth of works are also slated for Madrid Avenue and Cumberland Gully bridge in the municipality.
The joint select committee has planned a second virtual town hall meeting for tomorrow evening.
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