JIS News

Government, through the National Works Agency (NWA), has spent in excess of $11 billion over the past two and a half years to improve the main road network across the island.
“We have embarked on the National Road Improvement Programme, which is the largest ever single road rehabilitation programme to be undertaken in the history of Jamaica,” said Vando Palmer, Communications and Customer Services Manager of the NWA.
The approximately $5 billion National Road Improvement Programme (NARIP) was established in 2001 to rehabilitate approximately 1000 kilometres of roadway throughout Jamaica’s 14 parishes. Under this programme, the NWA sought to repair some 158 roads. “The road conditions on the main road network, which is approximately 5000 kilometres, has been significantly improved,” Mr. Palmer informed JIS News.
He conceded that there were still quite a number of pothole-riddled roads across the island that were in dire need of patching, but stressed that the Agency was committed to rectifying that problem in the shortest possible time.
Since the establishment of the Road Maintenance Fund in November last year, the Agency has intensified its road patching programme utilising state-of-the-art patcher units.
In the central region encompassing St. Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon, the NWA is utilising two patcher units to patch some 22,000 m2 of potholes on the main road network, with Clarendon having the greatest amount of potholes to be patched, that of 14,500 m2. There are two units now operating in St. Elizabeth and one in Clarendon.
In the eastern region, St. Mary, Portland, St. Thomas, 13,000 m2 of potholes are to be patched. Currently, there are two units in St. Mary and one in Portland.
There are three patcher units in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) and St. Catherine, where there are 20,000 m2 of potholes to be repaired. The western region has approximately 4,100 m2 of potholes and there are two units operating between St. James and Westmoreland.
The end of March marks the end of this first phase of the road patching programme, and will see the start of Phase 2, which will involve the patching of over 60,000 m2 of potholes on the main roads; 14,500 m2 in the central region, 10,200 m2 in the eastern region; 20,000 m2 in the KMA and 17,000 m2 in the western region. This second phase is expected to be complete by July 2004.
The third phase of the programme should end in August and will result in the repair of 22,000 m2 of potholed roads in the central region; 7,500 m2 in the eastern region and 20,000 m2 in the KMA and in the western region, another 11,000 m2.
“What this means, is that if the weather holds good, on our main roads, our A, B and C roads will have considerably less potholes than we have now. We are only able to do this programme, because of the establishment of the Road Maintenance Fund,” outlined Mr. Palmer.
The Road Maintenance Fund was set up by the Road Maintenance Fund Act (2002), which was passed in Parliament in 2002 and, is sustained by the mandatory payment of one-third of the proceeds of motor vehicle licence fees. The primary contractor of the Fund is the NWA, who then sub-contracts much of the routine road maintenance work.
The Fund, which officially commenced operations in July 2003, has as its primary function, the financing of road maintenance projects on all A, B and C roads in Jamaica. Since then, the Fund has disbursed over $156 million to the NWA.
The Fund is also being used to improve the aesthetics of the Corporate Area. To this end, the National Works Agency is embarking on a number of projects, which should see by August 2004, a marked improvement in the road works and as Mr. Palmer indicated, it is hoped that an improvement in Kingston’s appearance, would lead to improved temperaments and behaviours in motorists and road users.
“Through the Road Fund, we are bringing in two additional patcher units and two state-of-the-art road-marking units to re-establish the markings on our roads, both the edge lines and the centre lines. In areas where the lighting is not as good as we would like it to be, we are going to be using Cat’s Eyes both on the edge lines and on the centre lines,” he told JIS News.
The Communications Manager pointed out too that the NWA in collaboration with the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), is also taking a closer look at the operations of buses; where they stop, and the effect of their stopping on the flow of traffic. Also, under consideration, are the locations of bus stops.
There are quite a number of areas where bus stops are in close proximity to each other, said Mr. Palmer and the NWA is implementing a bus stop rationalisation programme, which will see the removal of some of these bus stops so that there will be a longer jump between stops, and the installation of bus bays to replace bus stops on narrow roadways, so that when the bus pulls up to the stop, it is off the road and traffic can move easier. Work has already started on Lady Musgrave Road, and upon completion of this project, the NWA will move to other areas.

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