McKenzie urges councillors not to politicise SPARK programme Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Local Government and Rural Development Minister Desmond McKenzie is calling on the island’s parochial councillors to refrain from politicising the Government’s $40 billion road improvement project under the Shared Prosperity through Accelerated Improvement to Our Road Network (SPARK) programme.

“I want to assure the councillors that this is not an MP (Member of Parliament) or a councillors programme…, and the purpose of this (programme) is to take politics out of the repairs of roads,” declared McKenzie.

In giving the warning at Thursday’s sitting of the Portland Municipal Corporation (PMC), McKenzie said the Government is aiming to complete island-wide consultations with residents in all 63 constituencies by August.

The first in the series of SPARK programme town hall meetings was held at the Edith Dalton James High School in Duhaney Park, St Andrew on May 2.

“It is the first time in the history of Jamaica that any Government has attempted to spend this amount of money on roads, and having the citizens, (and) the residents being a part of the decision-making process,” declared McKenzie on Thursday.

A portion of the funds is to be spent on community roads, while the rest is to be allocated for the rehabilitation of main roads.

The minister said the Government is working to make the SPARK programme transparent, to ensure that all the roads rehabilitated are accounted for.

Added McKenzie on that point: “… When you spending this kind of money, (and) when the auditor general comes to audit the programme, we must be in a position to account for every road.”

McKenzie told councillors that the programme is in the first phase, reiterating that the consultations have commenced.

“So, if we do the consultations here in Port Antonio (for example), and we have five roads, those roads will be assessed, costing done, and then it will be put out to tender,” the minister outlined.

Further, he said both “local contractors”, as well as “international contractors”, will be able to “tender” for projects under the SPARK programme.

“This is not a road programme where you going to patch roads. This programme (will) carry out rehabilitation of roads,” McKenzie indicated.