Getting Kingston up to speed a priority - PM
Jamaica's capital, Kingston, which, this year, marked 145 years as a city, continues to lag behind other state capitals in the region in a number of important areas, a situation the Jamaican Government is moving to remedy, according to Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
"We are celebrating 55 years (of political independence. Other cities in the region are moving ahead of us. We must make Kingston not just the geographical centre, but the centre of trade, commerce, lifestyle, business, industry, art, and culture. We must make our city the true pearl of the Caribbean. The foundation of that starts with a good road network, a solid road network," the prime minister stated at Wednesday's contract signing at Jamaica House for a US$4.4 million upgrade of the Barbican Road, St Andrew.
Holness cited the ongoing traffic congestion along that 3.57-kilometre stretch, as well as other Corporate Area roadways, as just as a measure of how far behind other countries in the region Kingston has fallen.
"I do come out to work fairly early and I see the congestion. I see time being wasted in traffic. I see us burning up fuel in traffic and I see a city that was not planned to address the needs and demands of the modern city and the modern world," the prime minister stated.
FOUR MONTHS' WORK
The work to be done by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) will see a 1.1 kilometre stretch of the Barbican Road upgraded to accommodate four lanes of two-way traffic, with new traffic signals at Birdsucker Lane, East King's House Road and the Jack's Hill Road intersection, among other improvements.
Work is set to start on Friday, August 25, and is slated for completion in four months.
"All this is being done to truly make Kingston a city, so dealing with the Barbican Road is very critical. I go back to the other major projects because I don't want people to say it's only Kingston we are dealing with, but, for now, for this major infrastructure development project programme, Kingston is a focus, but there are other projects nationally," the prime minister disclosed.
"Constant Spring Road is another major bottleneck, and opening up the road and making it easier flow for traffic also creates economic value for all the lands that are along that area for development in housing and for small-business operations. Marcus Garvey Drive is almost complete. The Mandela Highway improvement is ongoing and I gather it is on time and within budget, and we are now contemplating an extension. I believe we are almost there in settling the extension."