JIS News

The Ministry of Transport and Works has awarded 28 contracts valued at nearly $100 million to bush some 2,176 kilometres of roads and clean approximately 2,385 kilometres of drains across the island.
Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill, who gave the main address at the signing ceremony held at his offices on Maxfield Avenue this morning (March 2), noted that the contracts had been to tender on four previous occasions as part of a package of 55 road maintenance projects, but so far, the Ministry had only been able to recommend some 38 packages to the Road Maintenance Fund for award.
He noted that the inability to award all the contracts, was due to the fact that the bar had been set higher for contractors as government sought to tighten the criteria for award, to ensure that quality work was being given for money.
Mr. Pickersgill pointed out that contractors now had to prove that they had the financial backing to carry out the work, pay their workers and submit their certificates for payment. This way, the Works Minister noted, more effort would be put into doing quality work since the contractor’s own funds were being expended.
“To protect ourselves, they must pass some tests. They must have the requisite equipment and they must have some money to pay the people.and so we have had now to be pre-qualifying. I know that there are some contractors who are less than professional and whose integrity has been brought into question.many contractors who would under normal circumstances win a tender are now unable to do so,” he pointed out.
Mr. Pickersgill also urged Members of Parliament to submit the names of reputable contractors in their constituency. “We can’t guarantee anything, and of course it’s competitive, but certainly you will not be left out of the loop,” he noted.
A further 10 packages under the Routine Maintenance Programme are being evaluated and there is indication that an additional 17 packages are to come. “Some of these have already been tendered and are expected back soon, while the tender for the others are being prepared. We have to ensure that we receive maximum value for every dollar spent,” the Minister stated.He emphasized to contractors that, “if the work is substandard, the contractor will not be paid and the workers will not be paid and then there will be problems for you”.
The scope of work, which comes under the Road Maintenance Fund’s Routine Maintenance Programme, include bushing and mowing of the road banks; cleaning of shoulders, side and parallel drains, culverts, catch basins and outlets; cleaning of street signs, guardrails and other road structures; clearing of minor land slips and silt from the roadway; removal of garbage, domestic or otherwise; and removal of encroachment on the right of way.
Work will be carried out across all parishes except for Westmoreland and Kingston. The main roads in Westmoreland, Minister Pickersgill informed, would be addressed as part of the remaining 17 packages.
A special HOTMIX programme is being planned for Kingston and will be implemented as soon as the Road Maintenance Fund approved the quantities being developed by the National Works Agency, he further said.
The contracts do not include the patching of roadways, which is being carried out under a separate patching programme.
Of the 102,000 square metres of potholes identified for patching under the programme, 45,000 square metres of roadway in Kingston, St. Mary, Manchester, Westmoreland, St. James and Hanover, have been patched through the use of spray patcher units.
Meanwhile, Mr. Pickersgill said, the long awaited programme of routine maintenance, under the National Road Services Improvement Programme, which was being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, was closer to reality as 10 packages had so far been identified and recommended.
When implemented, Mr. Pickersgill informed, every main road in the parishes of Portland, St. Thomas, Manchester, Westmoreland and St. Catherine would be properly and consistently maintained. The project is to be implemented as a pilot in these five parishes. Also under the programme, the entire 481,959 metres of side drains, culverts and catch basins as well as the 7,652 metres of outfall drains, will be cleaned regularly.
Further, the Minister informed, special consideration was being given to developing a computerized system of routine road management to capture the maintenance of all drains, culverts and catch basins in the five parishes. “The programme is performance driven and there are penalties for breaches of the specifications of the contract,” Mr. Pickersgill noted.
The programme is expected to significantly reduce the incidents of flooding of the roads and “put us a far way in improving the life-span of the driving surfaces,” he added.

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