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Contracts totalling $27.2 million were signed today (June 28), under the European Union Stabex Parochial and Farm Access Road Programme for the rehabilitation of farm roads in the eastern parishes of St. Mary and Portland.
The roads to be rehabilitated are Bonny Gate to Crescent in St Mary and Mumble Road South/Toms Hope and Tramway to Sandy River in Portland.
The contracts were signed at the offices of the Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sport on Hagley Park Road in Kingston by officials of the Ministry and the European Union and the contractors.
In St. Mary, $15.9 million will be spent on 2.4 kilometres of road, while $11.3 million will be spent on 1.5 kilometres of road in Portland.
Addressing the signing ceremony, Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, Portia Simpson-Miller said that the contracts reinforced the importance of providing good agricultural roads and to focus on farmers.
“It is time to turn our attention on our community roads and agricultural roads,” she stressed.
She also urged the contractors to avoid shoddy work, and pointed out that regular inspection of the roads would be carried out.
Charge d’Affaires of the European Delegation, Ambjorn Bergland, commended the Ministry for the completion of road repairs in St. Thomas under the Stabex programme, adding that roads were the paths to development.
“We do hope that with the rehabilitation of these roads, the concerned communities will have an opportunity to improve income through better access and delivery of farm products to the markets, and we also hope this will allow the farmers to produce more efficiently and at lower costs,” he added.
He also called on the communities to carry out regular maintenance of roads in the areas, such as drain cleaning, to ensure longevity of the roads. Under the Stabex programme 12 kilometres of roads in St. Thomas have been rehabilitated.
Patrick Wong, Technical Director of the programme informed that the repair of roads in Portland would be a continuation of that leg of the project. Work is expected to commence within the next two weeks and should be completed by October.
The Stabex programme began in 2000, when the European Commission granted Euro 2.2 million (J$150 million) for the repair of parochial roads and to assist small-scale farmers to improve and market their products and services.