Wednesday, 08 March 2023 11:24

2,000 roads to be rehabilitated under $40-billion SPARK project

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The Government will be embarking on a $40-billion initiative to rehabilitate the Jamaica's roads.

Dubbed the Shared Prosperity through Accelerated improvement to our Road Network (SPARK), the programme will be implemented islandwide.

Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke made the announcement Tuesday during his opening contribution to the 2023/24 Budget Debate.

Clarke explained that the SPARK programme will be executed over three years, with the start of the project development in fiscal year 2023/24 and implementation in the fiscal years that follow, under the theme "Modernising Our Roads for Our Shared Prosperity”.

“The SPARK programme is part of the Government's multi-pronged strategy to respond to the decades of underinvestment in our nation's roads, improve road safety, and catalyse economic growth by restoring badly deteriorated public infrastructure. The road network is the backbone of our economy, connecting businesses, industries, and individuals across the country,” Clarke said.

He lamented that decades of underinvestment have taken a toll on the nation’s roads, resulting in poor road conditions, traffic congestion, and road accidents.

“The GOJ considers this intervention an emergency within the context of road deaths and the deteriorating state of our roads. The statistics on road deaths are staggering, and it is our responsibility as a Government to take action to reduce this burden on our healthcare system. Improving road infrastructure will not only improve road safety but also catalyse economic growth,” said Clarke.

He noted that the project is aligned with the Government's policy objectives, directly contributing to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that speak to the development of quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being.

The minister pointed out that the SPARK programme will not be constituency-based, but elected representatives will have the opportunity to make input and representation for their communities. He said that while the focus will be on secondary roads, there are some main roads and major thoroughfares that require attention to reduce the likelihood of road accidents.

An estimated 2,000 roads islandwide will be rehabilitated under the  SPARK project.