With the New Year under way, Transport and Works Minister Mike Henry has noted with concern, the cultural practices which led to wide-scale delays in implementing major infrastructural projects during the recent Christmas/New Years holiday period.

The minister, in noting an almost shutdown of a number of major projects across the island over the holiday period, said while the work stoppage resulted from an effort to allow time-off among the civil servants involved, and the contractors’ work teams, “it should be obvious by now that the country can no longer afford the luxury of such a broad and extended break in productivity.”

He emphasized that the new approach being taken towards rebuilding the base of the country was of critical importance. He reminded that last year he charged the teams behind the major public work projects to ensure that optimum use is made of the limited dry weather period that is available to implement such major projects.”

Minister Henry noted that major storms and hurricanes over recent years have compounded the national infrastructural challenge and, coupled with sharply changing weather patterns, have significantly impacted the work teams’ ability to smoothly implement medium to long-term projects.

In declaring that it was very important to “capitalize fully on the excellent ongoing weather conditions to advance the projects,” the minister said he made that intention quite clear from back in October of last year, hence his displeasure that the “long-entrenched culture of merry-making at the expense of productivity was still with us despite the ever-increasing need to reverse that picture.”

He said while he was not one to display insensitivity to the personal needs of employees, especially at times like Christmas, he had a greater duty to the nation “to ensure that its business is conducted with the requisite levels of urgency and responsibility, and the national good remains of paramount consideration.” He said come June 2011, “the threat of another hurricane season will be upon us, and I can’t allow that timeline to adversely affect the major long-term projects now on stream.”

Minister Henry said as a consequence, the relevant parties should expect changes to the working arrangements going forward, including provisions to make up for the time lost during the recent Christmas/New Year holiday period.