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JIS News

Government is to spend some $59 million to construct three new bridges in the parish of St. Thomas.
This is in addition to the $400 million already earmarked for the building of the new Yallahs bridge, for which Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller signed the contract recently.
The bridges are to be built at Pear Tree River at a cost of $27 million; Leith Hall, $17 million and Ward River, $15 million. They are being built under the Mabey and Johnson Bridge Building Programme and should be completed this financial year.
Details of the bridge projects were outlined to JIS News by Minister of State in the Ministry of Housing, Transport, Water and Works, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, during a tour of Eastern St. Thomas on May 4, along with another Minister of State in the Ministry, Richard Azan and a team of technocrats from the National Works Agency (NWA) and the Road Maintenance Fund.
Members of the team examined bridges and roads that are in need of repairs, drains that are in need of clearing and river-side communities that could be threatened by rising waters during heavy rains, particularly during the upcoming hurricane season.
Mr. Azan, who has responsibility for infrastructure, told JIS News that budgetary constraints restricted the Ministry from addressing all the concerns at once. However, the State Minister said he would ensure that priority areas were addressed as quickly as funds became available.
He said he would be adopting a novel approach being utilized by the Ministry of using in-house staff on some projects to create savings. “Not all the projects will be done by contractors, some will be done by Ministry staff,” he said. Over in Church Corner, where drains are being blocked by silt and the illegal dumping of garbage by the residents, Dr. Ferguson said the government had to find another solution, as workers cannot be cleaning them every three months, just for residents to go back and fill them up with garbage. “We will have to get the Social Development Commission (SDC) involved in the process, as we feel a reasonable arrangement can be made with the community to put some kind of system in place to see to the removal of garbage,” he said.