Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller launched a Performance-based Routine Road Maintenance Programme for the Northern Coastal Highway on Wednesday, January 25 at Salem in St. Ann.

The Programme is one of the major components under the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) financed Road Improvement Project and will be funded through an IDB loan of $10M. The loan is geared towards providing support for road safety and performance based road maintenance.

Speaking at the launch, Prime Minister Simpson-Miller said that she was very pleased to be associated with the programme and used the opportunity to pay tribute to the IDB whose loan is funding the Programme.  “On behalf of the government and people of Jamaica, let me express appreciation to the IDB for its continued assistance in helping us to achieve our national development goals,” she said. She told the IDB that, “You have our assurance of the highest level of probity and integrity in the execution and management of the programme.”

Also speaking at the Launch was Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies who stressed that the Programme would be administered in a non-partisan way. He said that the programme was designed to quite apart from improving the aesthetic appeal of the corridor, give a number of persons a chance to be gainfully occupied by way of a job. He noted that the Ministry was firmly behind the programme and would do everything to ensure that it achieved the desired objectives.

Partnering with the Ministry of Transport, Works and housing to undertake the implementation of the Programme will be the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), the National Works Agency and the HEART TRUST/NTA. The HEART Trust/NTA and the NSWMA will be responsible for the formal training of individuals from the various communities.

Training will be undertaken in: the operation and maintenance of weed whackers; basic landscaping and plant car; proper cleaning and manicuring of verges and medians as well as the proper use of safety gears. Some 700 persons are expected to be employed to the Programme.

In a word of caution, to users of the corridor, PM Simpson-Miller admonished persons to use it with care as there have been too many accidents on the roads in recent times. To this end, she asked that persons obey posted instructions and flagmen who might be place on the project during the implementation of the work. She also asked those persons engaged in the work to show respect to all persons with whom they may come in contact.

The Northern Coastal Highway spans Negril in the west, covering Montego Bay, Ocho Rios all the way back to Port Antonio in the east.