Government is moving to accelerate the start of major road works worth $160 million as it seeks to stimulate economic activity through infrastructural improvements.
In his Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals last Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced last week $125 million road package to get underway by November.
But today Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley said not only was this venture likely to start earlier than expected, but a complimentary $35 million project would also begin ahead of schedule.
He was speaking in the House of Assembly today on a $3.7 million supplementary resolution related to related to repairs to some roads and government buildings.
“We will obviously be starting a $125 million road package. Only yesterday I received the roads that should be placed in these packages, I received the costing and everything. The Minister of Finance said that he wanted it started in November but I believe that based on everything that happened yesterday we can have it started before November,” the St. Philip North MP stated.
As for the $35 million road package, he said: “I have also received the costing of the roads and everything for that… I think Honourable Members of this house will benefit from those two packages and of course they will be happy.”
Lashley said as these and other road projects took place government would ensure that small business people benefitted.
“We have a very aggressive programme and not only will we be concentrating on the large companies, there are only about two or three large companies who are into road construction, but we have requested that as a condition that they include small truckers, small businesses, small contractors to be part and that they can benefit from the program of the Ministry of Transport and Works and the program announced by the Ministry of Finance,” he stated.
The minister explained that today’s supplementary was necessitated because funds were wrongly allocated in the Estimates this year, something which prevented the $3.7 million from being accessible.
“Based on instructions from the Ministry of Finance these funds were allocated under account code 785, that is, Assets Under Construction. However the treasury department has agreed that since the ministry carries out minor and major repairs to existing assets the funds should have been allocated to a account code 223 Structures,” he pointed out.
“As a consequence security clearance to access these funds have not been granted so the ministry has been unable to carry out its programme …That is basically the essence of this resolution.”
Lashley said the funds would “assist in the country’s road network system particularly the tenantry road program”.
“We will not be restricting our work to St. Philip area, we have broaden and actually spread our wings to the area of St. John …from my understanding repairs will be done, be it minor or be it major … in that particular area,” he said, noting work would also be done in St. Michael, St. Lucy, St. Peter, St. James, and Christ Church districts.
“The Ministry of Transport and Works everyday we receive calls from MPs, residents, and members of the traveling public in relation to roads and of course the state of the roads, particularly in the area of St. George and of course receive letters from St. Philip,” he told the Lower House.
“I assure members of the House that resource will be distributed evenly and in the most equitable manner when it comes to repairing and of course construction new roads.
“We are basically trying particularly hard to speak to Ministry of Transport and Works personnel to answer on time and to answer the calls of particularly MPs and residents who of course are suffering some inconvenience as a result of the state and in some instances flooding in some areas.
“There is a relationship between the drainage unit and the Ministry of Transport and Works to work hand in hand … Drainage Unit they have the equipment and in some instances the personnel to solve these problems in a very quick manner.” (SC)