KINGSTON — Minister of Transport and Works, Hon. Michael Henry, says the country’s infrastructure is in such a state, that it will take an additional US$6 billion to complete road works even with the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP).
The five-year programme, which is being implemented by the National Works Agency (NWA), is being financed through an agreement between the Governments of Jamaica and China and is geared towards the rehabilitation of roads and other infrastructure islandwide.
Some 85 per cent or US$340 million of the cost is being provided as a loan from the China Export Import Bank (China EXIM) and 15 per cent (US$60 million) from the Special Consumption Tax (SCT) on fuel.
Speaking at a media briefing at his offices in Kingston yesterday, Mr. Henry said the initial figure would not be enough to complete the project, based on the scope of work that is to be done.
“I need US$2 billion for National Works Agency main roads only, and an additional US$4 billion for the parish council roads. Despite $400 million being the largest programme, it is really a drop in the bucket of what is required,” the Minister pointed out.
Mr. Henry also expressed concern that the upcoming hurricane season could cause further damage to the island’s roadways, in addition to damaging roads that have already been repaired under the project.
“As I drive right now, I shudder to think what’s going to happen if we really have a lot of rain, because one can see more and more of the soft spots being shown,” he said, noting that the lack of maintenance over the years had contributed to the deterioration.
Therefore, the Minister emphasised that quality and durability had to be the hallmark of JDIP, in order to “ensure that what we repair now does not re-occur on our radar for the longest possible period, which is about the next 10 to 15 years."
Mr. Henry also informed that as of this month, the NWA would be providing monthly progress reports on the programme via its website: www.nwa.gov.jm.
Under the programme, works have already started in a number of parishes, including Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Thomas, Manchester, St. Ann, St. James, St. Catherine, St. Mary and Clarendon.
The JDIP is regarded as the largest, most comprehensive infrastructural programme to be implemented in Jamaica. Major components of the programme include road rehabilitation, periodic maintenance, river training, and the construction and rehabilitation of bridges.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter