Major road repairs under way in battleground constituency
On the surface, things seem to be taking a turn for the better in South East St Mary ahead of Monday's hotly contested by-election - the road surface, that is - given the magnitude of repairs and rehabilitation now under way in the constituency.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness had promised a $600-million project to remedy the pitfalls of the Junction main road that links the parish with
St Andrew. Now the National Works Agency (NWA) has confirmed that roadworks in the parish will extend well beyond the battleground constituency.
A Gleaner team yesterday observed patching of roads in Broadgate along the Junction, as well as preparatory rehabilitation work in Belfield and patching in Highgate, which is set to extend all the way to the Westmoreland Bridge.
"I can confirm that we have [been] implementing works in a number of areas, including the section of the Junction road, Fort George, Islington, and Oracabessa," Stephen Shaw, NWA communications manager, advised The Gleaner by email yesterday. However, he declined to say how much money had been allocated for the comprehensive work to be undertaken.
CAN'T GIVE EXACT NUMBERS
"I am not in a position to give you exact numbers pertaining to quantities," he admitted, when asked about the cost and amount of material targeted for the parish. In fact, he was very cautious when directing The Gleaner to send questions via email.
"That South East St Mary thing is an issue, and I want to be very particular and specific in answering any questions about it," he admitted via telephone.
Shaw was, however, prompt in his response on the issue.
The Opposition People's National Party has questioned the timing of the multimillion-dollar project, alleging that it was being used to influence voters who go to the polls in less than a week. The governing Jamaica Labour Party has denied this charge.
The bush clearing, road patching, and drainage improvement, which will include construction of culverts and retaining walls, are slated for completion in another week. The project is being executed mainly through the force account method of procurement, with some funding from the Flood Damage (Pavement Repairs) Programme and Road Maintenance Fund, Shaw noted.