Hundreds of residents from several communities in East Rural St. Andrew are now benefiting from improved road conditions and more reliable access to potable water, following rehabilitation of the Guava Ridge to Content Gap roadway.
The $253-million road improvement project was undertaken by the National Works Agency (NWA) in collaboration with the National Water Commission (NWC), and Rural Water Supply Limited (RWSL).
It included laying of 4,800 metres of potable water lines at a cost of $51 million.
Senior Director at the NWA, Varden Downer, said the scope of works comprised upgrading of the 52-kilomtere two-lane roadway, drainage improvement, retaining wall construction, and installation of four-inch diameter water pipes along the full length of the project route, with service connections.
He was speaking at the official opening ceremony in the community on Wednesday (July 29).
Member of Parliament for East Rural St. Andrew, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness, hailed the collaboration among the agencies for the successful execution of the project.
“This is what we need everywhere in Jamaica. We must fix water and road [at the same time] so that when we do all the spending on the road, we don’t have to touch the road again for a long time,” she noted.
She implored motorists to take care as they use the roadway. “This ‘highway’ must serve us and our children for a long time to come. So I beg you, slow down on the road. Though the asphalt is pretty, we need to ensure that we travel safely on our roads,” Mrs. Holness said.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, in his remarks said the road improvement is a “significant upliftment” for the scores of farmers in the communities, who grow much of the traditional Blue Mountain Coffee and also produce a wide variety of cash crops, including broccoli and strawberries.
He said that the investment is in keeping with the Government’s commitment to the farming sector.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, for his part, told the gathering that the improved roadway will enable “seamless connection” for persons visiting the various attractions in the area.
The newly rehabilitated road is expected to enhance commerce in the beneficiary communities and reduce some of the rural-urban migration.