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Minister disappointed by delay of Leeward highway rehabilitation project

Minister disappointed by delay of Leeward highway rehabilitation project

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Minister of Transport and Works Julian Francis has expressed disappointment at the length of time that the Leeward Highway Rehabilitation project has taken to come to fruition.{{more}}

Although happy that the EC$44 million project will soon begin, Francis lamented that more than five years from inception to implementation is overboard.

“I just want to say that the length of time that this takes is very painful,” the minister said during the launch of the project on Monday at the Sunset Shores conference room.

“As Minister of Works in the first term of this administration, we discussed this project and my impressions then, was that this project… we would get started to do work in or before 2005, and then we are now into the third term of this administration… and we are now tendering… and it’s very frustrating at my level….”

Work on the 11.4 mile stretch of road is slated to begin in January 2014, and is expected to take between 18 and 21 months to complete.

Work will begin at the corner at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital and end at the post office in Layou.

Francis said that the length of time which the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the project’s main funder, has taken to move forward on implementation, is one of the reasons for the delay.

He suggested that as minister, and because he has an idea of customs and culture, he should have had a part to play in the official procedures.

“….And CDB alone is not to be blamed for these matters; I think that the Ministry of Works has to have some introspection as to how we go about these projects,” Francis said.

“But I want to lead with CDB; I think it’s time we gone past that stage of non-trust. I know that many things have happened in the past, but I think it’s time that we move to an area now where everything is instant, not only Nescafe and Milo and cappuccino, but surely, if you have a storm in 2010 and floods in 2013 and we are still finalizing the project to do the repairs of that storm, then the people who are resident of this country surely don’t have that amount of patience. I think we really have to speed up the way we do things to get the projects from inception to implementation.

“The largest capital project ever to be undertaken in this country; we started earthworks in August 2008 and by the time the South Leeward highway gets to starting, at the Argyle international airport, planes will be landing.

“From 2008-2013, five years and that is a 652 million dollar project,” Francis said.

Despite the delays, Francis thanked the CDB for their assistance in past and present development projects.

“There are always things we can say bad about CDB, but there are lots of good things and they have been a development partner with us…. I want to ask the representative to continue to express our appreciation to the board and directors at CDB.”(JJ)

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