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My fellow Jamaicans,
I speak to you tonight on a matter that is of concern to all of us, the matter of public openness, transparency and accountability in government and the application of these vital principles to the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP).
Jamaica has the second highest road density in the world next to Japan in terms of roads per square kilometre. This shows our heavy dependence on roadways for transportation.
In the last twenty years the number of cars and housing developments has increased the demands on our roads significantly. We must also bear in mind that Jamaica is a tropical country and that we are in a zone that is highly susceptible to natural disasters.
Roads once built have to be maintained and generally a well-constructed road should have a 20 year cycle before major rehabilitation is needed. Given our local conditions and heavy usage, our roads deteriorate more rapidly. Whilst capital outlay is high at the construction phase, regular maintenance is necessary to preserve this capital outlay and life of the road otherwise the investment will be wasted. However, historically as a country, we have not been able to sustain a programme of routine maintenance given our fiscal constraints.
Roads are a significant political pressure point for Governments and are the cause of more protests and demonstrations than the lack of other critical infrastructure or services. In our democracy, administrations are ultra-sensitive to the demands for roads.