The thoroughfare from Oracabessa in St. Mary to Spot Valley in Montego Bay is being transformed into a safety zone for road users, under a $116-million initiative being funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
The Road Safety Improvement project, which is a partnership with the National Works Agency (NWA) and the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), involves installing road markings and raised pavement markers or cats’ eyes along the roadway.
It forms part of a larger initiative by the Government to improve the country’s road-safety infrastructure and reduce crashes.
Addressing the virtual launch of the project from the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James on Wednesday (December 9), Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, said that the initiative aims to ensure the safety of Jamaicans and visitors to the island.
“What we do when we invite visitors to Jamaica is to give an assurance that they are going to be safe… to put dollars against our commitment is really to establish that we are truly serious about this undertaking,” he noted.
He commended the NWA and the NRSC for partnering with the TEF in the execution of the project.
“It is something that we can now go and speak about with confidence. We can say to the world that we are serious about your safety when you come to destination Jamaica,” Mr. Bartlett said.
Executive Director of the NRSC, Paula Fletcher, said that the Council is pleased to be a part of the project, which she noted, is timely, as the island continues to see a significant number of road fatalities.
She informed that 400 persons have died on the roadways up to December 9, with motorcyclists, pedestrians, pedal cyclists, and pillion riders, accounting for 65 per cent of the fatalities.
“So we are very happy to see that the TEF, along with the NWA, which is a member of the NRSC, is collaborating on this project. It aligns perfectly with the safe systems approach promulgated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations, which we have adapted here in Jamaica, to pursue an approach, which says, ‘we need to do all and everything we can to protect road users’.”
“Yes, they must take personal responsibility for how they use the roads, but the authorities have a role to play in making the roads safe,” she said.
Mrs. Fletcher noted that the road markings and raised markers will go a long way in making persons safe on the island’s roadways.
She encouraged the TEF to implement similar road-safety projects in other sections of the island.