Cabinet is to meet next week Thursday to consider proposals for the start of major Inter American Development Bank (IDB) funded road rehabilitation.
During a press conference at Government Headquarters yesterday, Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance Dr William Duguid said on the heels of the recent approval by the House of Assembly of $7 million to pay contractors and complete some unfinished projects which began just before the last Government’s term in office ended, that his ministry had already decided on a contractor “for about four of five of those roads”.
“We have made arrangements with the contractor . . . [and] a lot of [the road rehabilitation] would be on the ABC Highway,” Duguid said, explaining that much of the work would focus on the westbound side of the highway from Norman Niles Roundabout to Warrens, St Michael.
“The contractor has given me his assurance that they would be working night and day to get that project completed as quickly as possible with all the traffic management that is required and all the infrastructure, to get those four projects [completed],” the Government minister said, adding that work would be done on all four projects simultaneously.
Duguid noted that the idea was to finish phase one of the road repair project and draw down from IDB funding.
“They [contractors] have told me that once I sign those contracts . . . once I’m given the approval of Cabinet to sign those contracts [the necessary work will begin].
Duguid, whose Barbados Labour Party administration took office just over a month ago, also suggested that “we, unlike the other administration, we do not sign contracts without the approval of Cabinet”.
However, he said “a significant amount of work has gone into that programme to get the permission and we have actually been paying commitment fees for a long time . . . [so that] millions of dollars in preparation work would have gone into that road programme”.
While stressing that his ministry was ready to go and was only awaiting final approval from Cabinet, Duguid said the second phase of the programme involved a number of intermediate roads.
“We also have a programme to buy $10 million worth of equipment. That was also mentioned in the mini Budget [recently presented by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mia Mottley] so that we can re-equip the depots to get the depots working again . . . . Not that they were not working before, but at optimum levels, so that we can get a maintenance programme for all of the roads,” Duguid added.
The minister pinpointed the road that leads to Greenland, St Andrew, which he said was one of those with lots of commercial vehicles using it.
“Those are the roads that we have to make sure that they are in good stead. We also have problems with roads that may not be coming up for repair right away, but we have to do proper maintenance on the roads. So that if we maintain the roads now, we don’t have to spend millions on them later. For instance, parts of the Spring Garden Highway that we have to maintain,” he added.