While assuring constituents that repairs to district byroads and lanes were planned, St Peter Member of Parliament, Colin Jordan, has asked patience of them because government’s current roadworks are restricted by previously signed loan agreements.
Jordan, the Labour and Social Partnership Relations minister in the current administration conceded at a weekend meeting of his Barbados Labour Party branch that Barbadians are unhappy at repairs being done to highways which appear in better condition than village roads.
“I can understand why persons would be a little bit angry, some upset, about the repair of roads that are not in as bad condition as other roads that are not yet being repaired,” he said Sunday at the Roland Edwards Primary School.
But he went on to explain that government’s hands were tied by loan agreements the past administration signed for repairs to roads directly linked to production activities such as movement of goods.
IADB and the Latin American development bank, CAF, are the lending agencies funding the current road repairs, which are to also facilitate transportation of tourists.
“Those are loans that were negotiated before we took office,” Jordan said, adding “they finance infrastructural projects that are meant to build capacity”.
Much to the annoyance of Barbadians, who have been navigating bad roads for years, the long-awaited repair programme is now centred on sections of the ABC highway that are in much better shape than potholed byways.
Jordan explained that the loans addressed the ABC Highway because this thoroughfare “was meant to move goods from airport to seaport, [and] as a medium to facilitate exports… “They [lenders] see these things as contributing to economic growth”.
As an example he pointed out that, “the Highway from Grogan down to St Andrew was to facilitate the cement plant”.
He said that these production-oriented lending agencies omitted in their loans the island’s small streets such as the ones leading to and in Indian Ground, to Black Bess, and Boscobel because, “those roads are not considered by those organisations as contributing directly to economic growth”.
He said, however, “government recognises those [small bad roads] and we still have those on the agenda”.
But the administration also has constraints in its desire to fix the byways, “one of the issues is when the kitty is left empty, then there is a limit to what we’re able to do,” Jordan said.
The government of Barbados and IADB in 2016 agreed to a US$25 million ‘Road Rehabilitation and Improving Connectivity of Road Infrastructure’ project.
It also signed a US$35 million deal with CAF in 2015 for financing a ‘Sector Wide Approach Programme in Transport for the Development of Tourism in Barbados’. (GA)