The island’s main road will receive a complete overhaul come 2017, according to Minister of Public Infrastructure, the Honourable Ian Patches Liburd.
Minister Liburd’s comments came at a town hall meeting at the Edgar T. Morris Primary School in Tabernacle hosted by Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Sustainable Development et al, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, on October 16.
“Come next year, we are going to roll out a programme of road resurfacing right around the entire country costing an estimate of EC$ 125 million dollars,” said Minister Liburd, while pointing out that the country’s public infrastructure, including its roads, had fallen into a state of disrepair under his predecessor, Asim Martin, whose portfolio included that of Public Infrastructure.
“Believe it or not, in St. Kitts we have over 107 miles stretch of roads. The last time the island main road was resurfaced was 15 years ago; now, asphalt roads have a lifespan of eight to ten years, so what happened is that all the roads are crumbling; you see potholes all around the place,” he said.
Minister Liburd said that he finds it ironic because “we have signed the PetroCaribe Agreement with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which provides asphalt, but they didn’t see it fit to fix the roads because they left road construction and road maintenance to what I call political expediency”, while adding “you could have known when an election was imminent, some big road project started.”
He said that the former Douglas-led Administration started a road project on the eve of the 2004 General Elections to the tune of 25 million, another in the wake of the 2010 General Elections costing 30 million, and another one month before the recent 2015 General Elections, which was a 30 million South-East Peninsula road resurfacing project.
Minister Liburd lampooned the former Minister of Public Infrastructure, Mr. Martin, for failing to put infrastructure in place for some of the government housing projects.
“We need infrastructure when we build the houses—roads, water, lights,” he said. “We are going to put infrastructure in some of those projects that were handed out just before the last elections.”
“We did an exercise thus far and what we have found is that 72 projects were allocated on land with no water, no electricity, no roads,” said Minister Liburd, while stating that of the 72 projects, the cost for roads in 23 of them amounts to 55 million dollars.
The town hall meeting was attended by several government officials including Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Osmond Petty; Director of the Public Works Department, Mr. Cromwell Williams; Ambassador Michael Powell and Director of People’s Empowerment, Duncan Wattley. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Patrick Welcome.