Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, on Wednesday Jan. 25 launched the Performance-based Routine Road Maintenance Project for the North Coast Highway, which will provide meaningful employment for some 700 persons from seven parishes.
The US$10 million project, which will be carried out over a two-year period, was made possible through partnership between the government and the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) financed Road Improvement Programme. Work is scheduled to get underway immediately.
Persons selected for employment will benefit from preparation and training through the HEART Trust/NTA and the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), enabling them to perform quality work in the cleaning and beautification of sections of the 230-kilometre roadway stretching from Negril, Westmoreland to Port Antonio, Portland, as well as critical drains.
Addressing the thousands of participants at the launching ceremony held at Salem in Runaway Bay, St. Ann, the Prime Minister made it clear that the initiative being undertaken is not the much-talked about Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP), but one with a similar concept “that will create productive work for our people”.
She informed that in the weeks ahead, aspects of JEEP will be rolled out, particularly in the areas of agriculture, construction, transportation, and information, communication technology.
Mrs. Simpson Miller expressed gratitude to the IDB for approving the project, which she said, is geared towards providing much support for road safety in Jamaica.
“Road safety is very important. We are having too many serious accidents on our roads and so I want to thank the IDB for placing a focus in this programme… (and) for its continued assistance in helping us realize our national development goals,” she stated.
The Prime Minister assured the organisation’s Resident Representative, Ansel Brewster, “of the highest level of probity and integrity in the execution and management of this programme.”
The road maintenance project will be carried out by the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing and the National Works Agency (NWA), with the NSWMA to have responsibility for engaging both skilled and unskilled labour from communities through which the highway passes.
“I want to say to those who will be working on this programme and I want to make it absolutely clear, that the NSWMA will ensure that the work undertaken is done to the highest standards at all times. This is not a programme for persons to come and sit and do nothing. It will be executed in good order and will deliver value for money to the Jamaican people,” the Prime Minister stated.
She expressed the hope that the project will be implemented without too much inconvenience to motorist and the travelling public.