Jamaica’s roadways are set to undergo modernisation after Nigel Clarke, the minister of finance and the public service announced a $40-billion road improvement project to improve 2,000 roads across the island.
The minister of finance who was speaking in parliament on Tuesday (March 7) during the 2023/2024 Budget Debate outlined that the repairs of the road networks will commence during the upcoming financial year, and will span over a period of three years under the theme ‘Modernising Our Roads for Our Shared Prosperity’.
The project is part of the “Shared Prosperity through Accelerated Improvement to our Road Network (SPARK) Programme,” he added.
“The SPARK Programme is part of the Government’s multipronged strategy to respond to the decades of underinvestment in our nation’s roads,”
Clarke said that it will “improve road safety, and catalyse economic growth by restoring badly deteriorated public infrastructure.”
He stressed that the road network is the “backbone of our economy” connecting businesses, industries and individuals across the country, and the Government considers the intervention as an emergency within the context of road deaths and the deteriorating state of the public thoroughfare.
He said that with statistics on road deaths at a staggering level, “it is our responsibility as a government to take action to reduce this burden on our healthcare system.”
The minister outlined that the project is aligned with the government’s policy objectives, which contribute directly to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and will result in the development of quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being.
He informed that the government has entered into an agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to act as transaction advisors for the North Coast Highway between Mammee Bay and Montego Bay, which will start in the 2023/2024 fiscal year.
He further added that the government has also committed $40 million to conduct a feasibility study for the bypassing of Runaway Bay and Discovery Bay, to complement the current North Coast Highway widening project.
Both projects will be implemented at a cost of US$1 billion, on a phased basis over three years.