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The draft of the long-awaited National Transport Policy was tabled on Tuesday (March 8) in the House of Representatives.
The policy seeks to guide the development of all modes of transport in the island and to ensure that any policy initiatives undertaken in the sector will contribute to Jamaica’s economic and social progress.
Making a statement on the Green Paper, Transport and Works Minister Robert Pickersgill said that in addressing the need for a comprehensive policy, his Ministry had held a series of inter-Ministry and inter-agency consultations as well as forums with private sector entities, to discuss the policy document. In addition, the document was circulated nationally to a wide cross-section of the Jamaican population and interest groups and suggestions were taken into consideration.The policy seeks to, among other things: support the government’s goal for sustainable economic growth and social development as outlined in the National Industrial Policy; ensure the development of the transport system in light of the realities of the global economy and to foster economic growth as well as to underpin human development.
It also makes provision for a framework to guide the efficient use of transport infrastructure and services by the government and other stakeholders, Mr. Pickersgill informed. He said the policy provided “a framework within which transportation can be developed and operated in a safe, secure and environmentally friendly manner”. It also promotes energy conservation.
“The draft National Transport Policy also sets out a number of strategic policy objectives for each of the sub-sectors such as the roads, infrastructure, public transportation, traffic management, air transport, maritime transport, non-motorized transport and rail transport,” the Minister told the House.
He pointed out that government recognized the high cost of financing the development and maintenance of the national transport infrastructure and had accordingly, sought to implement a number of funding mechanisms. These include the establishment of the Airport Improvement Fee, the Road Maintenance and Parochial Fund and concession agreements for the benefit of the sector.
“In an era where infrastructure loans from international funding agencies are becoming highly competitive, we need to send a positive signal to these lending institutions by the promulgation of a National Transport Policy,” Mr. Pickersgill stated.
He added that, “this will no doubt indicate to them our deep commitment to developing a transport sector that will support the true economic and social development of Jamaica in the long term”.