Deplorable Region Eight roads…Regional Chairman should demonstrate initiative
– Minister Whittaker
Even as residents and leaders of Region Eight continue to decry the deplorable state of public roadways in the district, and in particular the main access road to Mahdia, Government Officials are sure that strategic interventions on the part of the Region’s Council can ease much of the discomfort.
Regional Chairman, Mark Crawford, during an earlier interview with this publication had accused Government of willfully neglecting the Region as it relates to making finances available for the revetment of roads.
The Chairman had said that for 2013, the entire region was allocated a mere $28Million to rehabilitate roadways in 23 villages. He had stressed that the allocation was severely inadequate, while adding that Government should have known it is costly to repair roads in the hinterland.
Crawford explained that from the $28Million, works for “clearing trails over the North Pakaraimas” werefunded and that “was still not enough.”
“That money could have done less than half of the roads in Mahdia alone,” the Chairman expressed.
He added that had the monies been used to fund rehabilitative works to Mahdia’s main access road, conducting works to the smaller roads would have been impossible.
“It could not have done anything for the main road to Mahdia,” he said.
Meanwhile, commenting on the issue was Minister within the Local Government Ministry, Norman Whittaker, who expressed that the complaint that funds are inadequate is common as there are hundreds of miles of roads to be maintained across the country with insufficient funds to do so.
“If you talk with the Regional Chairman for the other nine Regions, they themselves would tell you that funds aren’t adequate,” the Minister said, while adding that he, too, experienced this predicament as Former Regional Chairman for Region One (Barima/Waini).
“We never get the amount we ask for.”
Minister Whittaker said that in this position, any Regional Chairman would have to prioritize, by means of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), which road projects would be funded with the monies allocated. He explained that since the funds are often times inadequate, the monies should go towards those projects that demand immediate attention.
The Minister added that the Regional Chairman should employ some amount of initiative in the face of inadequate finances to offset the burden of deteriorating roadways and thus bring relief to the residents.
Referring to his tenure as Regional Chairman, the Minister said, “I sometimes engage the tractor owners and the farmers and they would help. They would bring a truckload or two of sand, a truckload or two of gravel. They would help so that the money that we got could stretch and be able to do much more.”
On this note, the Minister urged Crawford to demonstrate initiative in engaging the miners in his region to assist in rehabilitating the roadways via self-help.
Asked if there will be provisions this year for Region Eight to have an increased amount allocated to rehabilitate roads, the Minister said, “It’s not a fixed amount given every year. It depends on what resources we have. And so once they requested funds in their 2014 budget proposals, I have no doubt that the Ministry of Finance will make available some sum of money to assist with maintenance.”