Hundreds of jobs, not a hike in bus fares, have been promised by the Minister of Transport and Works.
A $125 million roads and bridges project to be started in a few months under that ministry is expected to create some 500 jobs in the construction sector and an additional $35 million road package has also found support with the Ministry of Finance.
This was disclosed yesterday evening by Minister of Transport and Works, Michael Lashley, as he supported the 2013 Budget.
Noting that all 30 constituencies would be impacted by the work of his ministry, Lashley disclosed that the contract for the reconstruction of the bridge at Joes River in St.Joseph has been awarded to a Chinese firm.
“The contract, to the tune of $2 million, has been awarded to the Chinese and the work will be done,” he stressed.
In his support of the Budget, the MP for St. Philip North stated that the people of Barbados could not afford to go back to the Barbados Labour Party which was divided and only interested in causing hardship to poor people.
Lashley said the Democratic Labour Party was committed to the development of Barbados and Barbadians and pointed to the Constituency Councils and added that every policy geared at helping or lifting up the vulnerable was criticised by the BLP.
“What is wrong with assisting somebody who is unemployed in paying a bill? What is wrong with that? In an economic recession, here is an avenue to allow small businesses to ply their trade. Some Opposition supporters in my constituency support the councils. It is an important mechanism in these times,” he said.
The Transport and Works minister also dismissed claims by MP for St. George North, Gline Clarke, who was also once head of that ministry, about the non-availability of buses, stating that between 2003 -2007 under the BLP the Transport Board’s daily fleet was 150 but under the DLP now stands at 212.
“That is where we are now, without buying any new buses. We know there are challenges and we have looked at revenue gaining measures and keeping maintenance costs down. Yes the fleet is aging and at some time they will have to be replaced either by direct purchase or lease arrangements. We also have to create more profitable routes,” Lashley said.
However, he stressed that a reported planned increase in bus fares was nothing more than BLP propaganda.
“We as a Government made no pronouncements of an increase of bus fares. This Government is not going to raise bus fares. That is what the member for St. George South wants us to do — to place burdens on poor people,” Lashley charged.
He also appealed to all Barbadians, especially persons in the private sector, to put their hands on deck and join with the DLP in restructuring and redeveloping the Barbados economy.
He assured that the austerity measures introduced for the next 18 months would come to an end at the designated time. (DB)