$40b SPARK programme not substitute for existing road projects – Gov’t Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, says the road rehabilitation to be carried out under the $40 billion SPARK programme will not be a substitute for existing road initiatives.

The Shared Prosperity through Accelerated Improvement to Our Road Network (SPARK) programme aims to address and improve roads island-wide.

Of the budgeted sum, $20 billion is to be spent on community roads, while the remainder is to be used for main roads.

In addressing Thursday’s monthly meeting of the Portland Municipal Corporation in Port Antonio, McKenzie said the Government is committed to undertaking a transparent initiative.

“The SPARK programme does not replace the monthly routine programme done by the National Works Agency (NWA) and by the municipal corporations, so you are not losing any funds to facilitate the SPARK programme,” the minister told the meeting.

“You will still have your monthly allocations, and so as we look forward with great anticipation to the outcome of a game-changing initiative by this Government, I want to solicit the support of every councillor, every community and every Member of Parliament (MP) in making this programme a success,” said McKenzie.

He stated that the programme will not be short-changed, and the commitment of the Government is that it must be a transparent programme that can stand up to any examination, because it is going to be done in a way “that makes Jamaicans proud of our efforts in bringing an end, not fully, to bad roads”.

Expected outcomes of the SPARK programme include improved road safety; better localised drainage; and reduced travel time, vehicle operating costs and motor-vehicle carbon emissions.

“There is no turning back on this programme… which is designed for the first time to move in a serious and decisive way in addressing the conditions of community roads across the country,” the minister said.

Consultations with community members have started for the SPARK programme.

“We have already had two such consultations in the Corporate Area, and this evening (Thursday) we’re moving into St Catherine. It is the first time in the history of Jamaica that any Government has ever attempted to spend this amount of money on roads and having the residents being a part of the decision-making process,” he said.

The meetings are to provide an opportunity for residents to engage with various Government stakeholders on the road network in their communities.

There are more than 22,000 kilometres of road across Jamaica.