Transparency was the watchword at a Press Conference held at the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing on June 19, 2014 to announce major developments within the sector.
Underscoring the relevance to its “core values”, Permanent Secretary Audrey Sewell told the conference that reporting was important as the “the Ministry wants the country to be kept informed”.
Led by Minister of Transport, Works & Housing Dr. the Honourable Omar Davies; Minister without Portfolio (Housing) Dr. the Honourable Morais Guy; Minister of State, Honourable Richard Azan and other technocrats, updates were presented on the following programmes:
- Opening of Segment II, Highway 2000 (Linstead to Moneague leg)
- Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP)
- Revised Road Traffic Bill
- Mortgage Insurance Act
- Titling Programme
- Contract Signing – Soursop Turn, Chapelton, Clarendon
Mortgage Insurance Act
Expounding on three components from the 2014 Sectoral Debate, Dr. Davies reported that amendments to the Mortgage Insurance Act, tabled by Minister Guy in Parliament, would be passed shortly. This will increase, from 90-97%, the per-centum appraised value of the property on which mortgage indemnity insurance can be granted. The result will be access to larger mortgage loans by prospective home buyers and a reduction in the amount required for deposit. He said some 50,000 titles were in the vaults at the Administrator General and other entities awaiting execution.
Revised Road Traffic Bill
In relation to the proposed changes to the Road Traffic Bill, Dr. Davies revealed that a committee would shortly be convened to ferret out issues surrounding the proposal.
Clearing up media reports that the fines for speeding and related infringements could be as hefty as $50,000, the Minister noted that these were, for the most part, avoidable. “These are fines that you do not have to pay if you adhere to the speed limit,” he said. He also said that government was concerned with maintaining “safety on the roads’ for all its users and pointed out that “the Bill will not adversely affect any one group”.
The Revised Road Traffic Bill seeks to safeguard road users and ensure better use of the nation’s roads. Features of the Bill include comprehensive operational changes to the Island Traffic Authority and the training and certification of motor vehicle driving instructors.
Segment II, Highway 2000, (Linstead to Moneague leg)
A major plank of the government’s infrastructural development programme will be the opening of the much anticipated Linstead to Moneague Leg or Segment II of the North/South Link of Highway 2000 on August 5th 2014. Noting its significance, Dr. Davies declared that the works, when completed, will have a “major impact on travel time” as it will reduce travel between the corridors from around 35 to 15 minutes.
The project, which is being undertaken by China Harbour Engineering Company to the tune of US$730 million, is funded by China Development Bank. Some 1,500 persons are currently employed along various sections of the project.
Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme
Addressing briefly the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP), Dr. Davies explained that the J$3.7B provided for MIDP for fiscal year 2014/2015 is disaggregated as follows:
- $1.6 B – JEEP
- 1.5 B – Road works
- 329 M – Land acquisition and utility relocation
- J$124M – Bridges
Responding to the media on the timeframe for the planned inventory of government-owned buildings, Dr. Davies said the process was being undertaken by Cabinet. He also addressed the issue of the new toll rates published recently, noting that consultations were under way with the toll operators.