JIS News

Minister of Transport and Works, the Hon. Mike Henry, says that his Ministry plans to spend just over $1 billion on road improvements, using funds from the cess on fuel, by the end of December, but indicated that the bulk of the spending on roads this year will continue to come from multilateral and bilateral arrangements.
According to figures produced by Mr. Henry and Ministry of Transport and Workers personnel attending a post sectoral debate press briefing at his office on Thursday (September 17), the plan is to spend $1.03 billion on road improvements by December, using the funds from the cess. Additional funding and projects are expected by next March.
He said that $430 million have already been received by his Ministry from the cess, but discounted suggestions by the Opposition that they are being spent primarily on roads in constituencies represented by Government MPs.
He said that the first project being financed through the cess funds, is the $205 million worth of repairs to the Rio Grande Valley road network in East Portland, which is represented by Opposition MP, Dr. Donald Rhodd.
Mr. Henry said that in order to fast-track that project, and in anticipation of the funds, the contract was put to tender and the necessary pre-construction arrangements made, to ensure that work could start as soon as the funds became available.
“Dr. Rhodd, and the Councillor for the area, had been asking for this for a long time. I visited the area last week and made the announcement,” Mr. Henry recalled.
He said, however, that the policy of both his Ministry and the National Works Agency (NWA), that retaining walls will have to be fixed before any road repairs begin, will be observed.
“What I intend to do is to repair the roads operating with a clear vision, and not hiding behind any trees,” Mr. Henry said in a veiled response to Opposition criticisms about his handling of the funds.
But, Mr. Henry and his team also announced that there was some additional $12 billion worth of projects to be undertaken during 2009/10, with financing through multilateral and bilateral arrangements.
These, he said, included completion of the protective rock revetment works along the Palisadoes peninsula; permanent replacement of the Harbour View Bridge with dualised approaches and a four-lane bridge; replacement of nine other bridges across the island; phases two and three of the Fern Gully restoration; revetment works at the Rae Town Fishing Village; rehabilitation of the Sheffield to Negril roadway in Westmoreland; and expansion of the Washington Boulevard-Dunrobin Avenue road section in St. Andrew.

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