KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Vincentians can check with the Building, Roads, and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) to find out if roads in their vicinity are among 70 to be repaired by month end.
But Works Minister Sen. Julian Francis said at a press briefing yesterday that the EC$5 million being spent on road repairs is just one-tenth of what is needed to make most Vincentians comfortable with the country’s road.
“Sometimes, our individual priorities are not necessarily national priorities and we have to pick the priorities if we are spending the money,” he explained.
Vincentians continue to complain about the deplorable conditions of some of the nation’s roads weeks after government released $5 million for road repairs.
“I want to say to those persons whose roads have not been addressed yet that the list is here by BRAGSA. You can check … to see exactly what we have planned,” Francis said.
“What we are on here is an exercise that is overdue by … by eight months. But because of so many things having happened in the earlier part of this year that caused us to divert funds,” Francis said.
“What we have to do is try and get as much done without compromising too much on quality,” he further said.
Francis said he had informed the Minister of Finance, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, that he would like a further $2.5 million for another road repair programme before year-end.
“I don’t want you to forget that of the $5 million there will be internal expenses to run BRAGSA. … But we still try to cover that in our other subventions from the government,” he told reporters.
Some major roads need repair, including those in Ratho Mill in the vicinity of the residents of two ambassadors, which are expected to cost between $400,000 and $500,000 to repair, according to Francis.
Major repairs will also be done in Harmony Hall, heading towards the Sugar Mill Inn, which was used as a by-pass when the Jack’s wall was being rebuilt.
“These are projects that we have to get done because they are in key positions and they are in terrible shape,” Francis explained.
He further said that while $140 million was spent repairing the Windward Highway $1 million has had to be spent on patching.
“Some areas are pretty bad, weak. … So we are a slave to it right now because we don’t want that highway to deteriorate,” he said.
The Leeward Highway, from Hospital Corner in Kingstown to the Central Leeward town of Layou “is in pretty bad shape,” Francis said.
“Basically, we are treating that like a sore foot – change bandages. Because when somebody is a diabetic and has a sore, it can’t heal. The sores on the Leeward Highway can’t heal right now, quite honestly. It has to be rehabilitated. It has to be done over like we have done the Windward Highway,” he said.
A firm is taking the alignments for the future rehabilitation of the Leeward Highway.
“But, the relevant point for this morning’s discussion is the amount of money we are spending to keep those bandages changed on the Leeward Highway,” Francis said.
He said that drainage on the Leeward Highway is bad and no major repairs have been done in over 30 years even as the vehicular population has tripled in the past 10 years.
Maintaining the Windward and Leeward Highways has cost the government about $2 million so far this year, Francis said.