The allocation is in response to severe weather events that impact the island.
Prime Minister Holness on January 4 addressed the matter while touring sections of Eastern Portland that were battered by the recent heavy rains.
Prime Minister Holness noted that a ground-breaking initiative, the Spark Programme, has been introduced with a budget allocation of $20 billion solely dedicated to road repairs and rehabilitation.
In this regard, Prime Minister Holness emphasized, “This significant allocation may sound substantial, but it is crucial to recognize the vast demands across the country. We acknowledge the need for community involvement to ensure the effective allocation of funds and address the priorities expressed by the people.”
Consequently, the unusual weather pattern, characterized by increased intensity and quantity of rainfall, has prompted the government to reevaluate its approach to road maintenance, moving from a reactive to a preventative maintenance programme.
“The recent weather events in Portland have highlighted the need for a more comprehensive approach to road maintenance. We cannot merely react to damages; we must proactively work to prevent them and extend the lifespan of our roads,” said Prime Minister Holness.
Addressing the historical challenges faced by the island, the Prime Minister acknowledged the deterioration of roads over time due to the lack of routine maintenance, especially since the economic downturn in the 1970s. He said the government’s focus is to reverse this trend by implementing strategic measures going forward.
In the meantime, to facilitate community-driven decision-making, consultations will be conducted by elected representatives, including Members of Parliament and local councillors.
The public will have the opportunity to voice their concerns and contribute to determining which roads, drains, gullies, and other related infrastructure should be prioritized for repair.
“This marks the first step towards transitioning from reactive to preventative maintenance. By involving the community in the decision-making process, we aim to create a more inclusive and responsive infrastructure development strategy,” highlighted Prime Minister Holness.
The Prime Minister affirmed the government’s commitment to incorporating similar strategies into local community road repairs. While acknowledging the complexities involved, especially with historical infrastructure decisions, the government aims to address challenges and enhance the resilience of Jamaica’s road network.
Prime Minister Holness noted that the Government recognizes the urgency of transforming the road maintenance strategy to better withstand the challenges posed by evolving weather patterns.
The move is to ensure preventative, not reactive, measures are part of the broader vision of building resilient road networks and creating more sustainable communities.