JIS News

Since the new Government came into office on September 11, the Ministry of Transport and Works has been repairing and rehabilitating damaged infrastructure, such as roads, water systems and bridges, caused by Hurricane Dean in August and heavy rains in October and November.
The Ministry has so far spent millions of dollars to effect these repairs and rehabilitative works. Transport and Works Minister, Mike Henry announced in November that the country’s road repair bill was approximately $3.5 billion. To this end, Cabinet approved $300 million to begin immediate repairs on several roads, gullies and drains.
The government sought to address the problem in St. James by carrying out infrastructure works in the Catherine Hall community. The scope of work involved in the $91 million project entailed the construction of roadways, storm water drainage, water distribution and sewage systems.
In Central Jamaica, the National Works Agency (NWA), an agency of the Ministry of Transport and Works, undertook road repair work on several major roadways in the parishes of Clarendon, Manchester and St. Elizabeth.
A further $9 million was allocated to re-start construction work on the Great Bay Canal, in the Treasure Beach area of St. Elizabeth. The canal, on which construction was first started in 2006, is designed to take excess storm water flows from land to sea. In the event of a storm surge, the surrounding land will become inundated but the drain will facilitate subsequent run off back to the sea. Minister Henry indicated that for the new budget year, which begins in April of 2008, a submission would be made for further funds to complete the canal system.
In the meantime, the Ministry commenced major road works at the Port of Kingston maritime business district, ahead of another phase of development of the port, which is scheduled to get underway soon. Upon completion, the road works will eliminate traffic congestion between the port and the urban centres of Portmore and downtown Kingston to the West and East of the New Port West maritime business district. As part of the effort to reduce the damage the country’s roadways by overloaded vehicles, particularly trucks, Mr. Henry said the government plans to re-institute the commercial vehicle and safety weight limit enforcement programme.
“This programme seeks to address problem of the damage to the roads caused by the overloading of vehicles, mostly trucks, and is aimed at improving safety along the roadways of Jamaica,” he explained. The programme will involve the implementation of fixed scales at five selected locations across the island, including Harbour View to Yallahs in St. Thomas; Port Maria to Buff Bay in Portland; Ironshore in St. James to Falmouth, Trelawny; Central Village to Six Miles in St. Andrew; and Clarendon Park in Clarendon to Spur Tree in Manchester.
Mr. Henry announced that the new state-of-the- art Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre would be opened on January 12.
He explained that heavy rains as well as project improvement works in the Half-Way-Tree area, had delayed the original October date for the opening of the facility.
The $4.7 billion double-level transportation centre boasts passenger holding areas and spacious bus bays, which can also accommodate taxis. Other facilities include 17 commercial shops; a 900-foot food court; four commercial kiosks; 17 public toilets with two equipped for the disabled.
In the maritime sector, Jamaica was successful in its bid to sit on the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Mr. Henry, who headed Jamaica’s delegation to the IMO Council meeting in London in November, said the country’s election to the Council was very significant.
“It means new and fresh demand on us as we take on the wider area of responsibility as it relates to the whole area of the Caribbean and the importance of the protection of the environment, which was a key theme of the (IMO) meeting,” he explained.
The Minister pledged to increase the involvement of the country as well as the wider Caribbean in the maritime industry. “We need to make the wider community and public aware of the importance of the sea, the importance of what it produces and the economic benefit, which can accrue to us if properly handled,” he said.
Among the issues that the Ministry intends to tackle in the new year are: the development of the Vernamfield aerodrome; the expansion of the Port of Kingston; privatisation of the Norman Manley International Airport; and rehabilitation of the railway service.

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