A Memorandum of Understanding for routine maintenance on the Northern Coastal Highway was signed among the Ministry of Transport and Works/National Works Agency (NWA) and the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) on Monday, December 5 at the Ministry of Transport and Works.

Under the MOU, the NSWMA will conduct continuous bushing and drain cleaning activities along the over 250 kilometre stretch of the corridor which runs from Negril in the west to Port Antonio in the east. The Highway covers the parishes of Westmoreland, Hanover, St. James, Trelawny, St. Mary and Portland. The agreement will run for a period of two years at a cost of $340,000,000.00 and will see the NSWMA maintaining verges, thus ensuring that the grass is kept at an agreed height and the pre-determined areas free of trees and shrubbery. They will also be responsible for the cleaning of drains along the corridor.

The exercise will be funded by a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) which was signed by the Ministry of Finance in December, 2009 to provide support for road safety, as well as a performance based road maintenance programme.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, new Minister of Transport and Works, Shahine Robinson said she viewed the moment as a historic one as that was her first official engagement since taking up ‘the stewardship of the Ministry of Transport and Works’. She said, “…this signals my intention to fulfill the mandate of this Ministry – that of building and maintaining highly developed, sustainable transport systems and works infrastructure.”

Also speaking at the signing ceremony was Col. Allan Douglas, Actng. Executive Director of the NSWMA. He noted that this was his first public engagement since taking up the position of Executive Director (Actng). He said that he was confident that the NSWMA would live up to the provisions of the MOU.

And for his part, Actng. CEO of the NWA he was pleased with the NWA’s participation in the programme and said that the MOU could be used as a template for future programmes.

The signing of the MOU marked the commencement of the hybrid performance based routine road maintenance programme. The component will finance the execution of routine maintenance works along the road verges through the implementation of performance based maintenance contracts. Such contracts will include a hybrid of performance based requirements and unit price works for roadside activities.