Sun | Dec 11, 2016

Riverton road repair back on track

Published:Sunday | April 26, 2015 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones
Local Government Minister Noel Arscott (left) and then Mexican Ambassador to Jamaica Gerardo Lozando, in discussion for the rehabilitation of the access road to the Riverton City Dump in St Andrew during a tour more than one year ago.

More than one year after it was first announced that the Government of Jamaica and the Mexican government would collaborate to effect much-needed repairs to the access road to the Riverton City Dump in St Andrew, it seems work is finally to get underway.

However, there is still no firm date for the start of the work to fix the road, which is bumpy and dusty when the time is dry, and a swamp once it rains.

"We are in the process of scheduling a date for the signing of the contract. There has to be a contract signed with the Government of Jamaica," Raul Mendoza, head of cooperation affairs at the Embassy of Mexico told The Sunday Gleaner recently.

"After we have engaged in the process of signing the contract, we start with the procurement of the funds and the technical part of the project. That is going to be handled by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)," added Mendoza, echoing comments which came from local government officials last September.

 

US$1.8 million donation

 

Mendoza spoke to our news team hours after the Mexican Embassy in Kingston issued a fresh release repeating the announcement which had been made last March.

In the release the embassy said that the government of Mexico, through the Infrastructure Fund for Mesoamerican and Caribbean Countries (the Yucatan Agreement) and Mexico's Ex-Im Bank, BANCOMEXT as financial agent, has approved a donation of US$1.8 million to the Government of Jamaica for the rehabilitation work.

But the embassy later told The Sunday Gleaner that the agreement will not be signed until the new Mexican Ambassador to Jamaica, Cecilia Jaber, takes up her post at the end of this month.

Last September, Minister of Local Government and Community Development Noel Arscott had blamed the handling agency UNOPS for what was then a six month delay in the start of the rehabilitation work.

"It is the first that I've had to deal with them (UNOPS), and I would never have anticipated, in my wildest dreams, that it would have taken a fraction of the time. So, if you ever hear about bureaucracy in Jamaica, check UN," declared Arscott.

The road, which is managed by the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), has fallen into disrepair due to heavy usage by compactor trucks transporting solid waste and other refuse to the landfill, and the effects of the weather.

It was initially announced that the global buildings material firm CEMEX would undertake work to introduce a concrete surface, proper street lights and a drainage system along the 1.65 km length of roadway.

However, Mendoza now says although the Mexican firm has shown an interest in the project, it will have to go to public tender.

According to Mendoza, he anticipates that the construction of the road will be concluded in the next 12 months.

"We highlighted the recent events (fires at the dump site) with the authorities in Mexico to indicate the urgency for this to be included in the package in all the measures that the Government of Jamaica is taking to improve the operations of the landfill."

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com