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JIS News

The Ministry of Transport and Works is to develop a database to allow decision-makers to track the level of infrastructure laid by utility companies within the rights-of-way.
Each utility operator will be asked to provide a list of its entire infrastructure in the rights-of-way, to include the locations, types, ownership, and whether they are operational or not.
Speaking with JIS News, Communications Manager at the Ministry, Reginald Allen said that the implementation of the new Geographical Information System (GIS) database would help the Ministry to keep abreast of what is underground.
“The GIS will be able to inform the Ministry of all the infrastructure underground. We will be able to outline or be informed about what’s below the surface along any corridor. It will take some time but that’s where we are aiming to go,” he said.
The GIS database is part of the policy now before Cabinet to charge utility companies for use of the rights-of-way. A recent technical analysis conducted by the Ministry revealed that there were no provisions for an inventory of the various types of infrastructure within the rights-of-way or whether they are still operational.
According to Mr. Allen, rights-of-way are not just the sidewalks, but “covers everything that is in the air, on the ground and below.sidewalks, light posts, billboards and whatever is underneath [such as] water, sewage, telecommunication, among others.”
Mr. Allen pointed out that it is the responsibility of the government to protect huge public investment in road and sidewalk infrastructure by better managing the number of cuts, which shortens the life of the roadway. “In building the roads, every time something is disturbed it affects the lifespan of what is there and what should have lasted 10 or 50 years, lasts only six years. The government takes the responsibility [not just for] the management [but also] the protection of that investment and in that regard private users of the facility should share in this responsibility,” he said.
With the implementation of this new database, utility companies will now have to apply for permission to use the rights-of-way. “The policy will require companies to apply for permission to encroach, in any way, on the rights-of-way [therefore] each utility provider who wants to establish something underground will have to seek permission before establishing, so that at any given time the database will reflect what is really there,” he explained.
Indicating that the Ministry is putting in place regulations where none existed before, Mr. Allen said: “At present there is no requirement and the Ministry of Transport and Works, in conjunction with the local authorities, will be working to get such a permit in place. The sidewalks are not getting wider, so the use of them has got to be restricted.”
The new system will also allow for information on the location of the relevant infrastructure to be shared between all users of the rights-of-way, to protect each entity from accidental damage and to improve the government’s ability to better manage the rights-of-way in the interest of all.