An allocation of $385 million has been set aside in the 2012/13 Estimates of Expenditure, now before the House of Representatives, in support of the Government’s efforts to improve the nation's roadways.
The initiative falls under the Road Improvement Programme, which is being funded by the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Jamaica.
The project, which began in April 2010, seeks to promote the creation of a self-sustainable system for the provision of a safe and reliable national road network; support the Ministry in the implementation of a new framework for administering the main road network; strengthen the core activities of planning, programming and budgeting for the road sector; and enhance the maintenance, design and construction of roads within the national network under the National Works Agency (NWA).
For this fiscal year, anticipated targets include: continuing the provision of training, procurement of equipment, goods and services necessary to facilitate the institutional strengthening of the Road Safety Unit; commence and achieve 50 per cent completion of civil works; and undertake continuous bushing along approximately 270 kilometres of the 300-kilometre northern coastal highway corridor.
There have been several achievements under the project to date, including: procurement of office equipment, and goods and services to facilitate road markings and signage; training of 20 Ministry/NWA staff in project management; award of a maintenance contract to undertake routine maintenance, bushing and drain cleaning activities; and training of 40 personnel in accident investigation and reconstruction.
The Road Improvement Programme is slated to conclude in March 2015. It is being implemented by the NWA under the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter