Imbert gave the country this commitment as he spoke at the commissioning of the new Macoya Bridge and commissioning of overhead gantry signs on the nearby Churchill Roosevelt Highway. Imbert’s commitment comes with just over a month to go before the May 24 snap general election.

“We in the Government recognise that you have not been getting proper service from local corporations which is why the Ministry of Local Government is engaged in a comprehensive programme of local government reform to maximise efficiency in that system,” Imbert said.

Prime Minister Patrick Manning has vowed that should the People’s National Movement (PNM) win the election, long overdue Local Government Elections would be held shortly afterwards.

“In the new system, the allocation of responsibility for infrastructure development will be streamlined for greater efficiency. Accordingly, as of today April 21, 2010, consistent with the Green Paper and the new policy of the Government, the Ministry of Works and Transport is taking on the responsibility to fix and repair every single road in the country in collaboration with all other relevant agencies, whether it be an orphan road, a local area road, a residential road, a secondary road, a trace, a local connector road, rural access road, whatever it might be,” Imbert declared.

Revealing that to date the ministry has undertaken 3,638 road improvement projects through its Programme for Upgrading Roads Efficiency (PURE) at a cost of $3.7 billion, Imbert said, “That is what we are spending taxpayers’ dollars on.” He disclosed that the population could expect to see several more road infrastructural work taking place this year.

“Just a few days ago, at a public meeting, I announced the complete repaving of 15 kilometres of the Plum Mitan Road in Cumuto, from Manzanilla to Biche. This is just one of over 1,000 roads in TT that we are in the process of upgrading and there is more to come,” Imbert stated.

Imbert indicated that some of the other projects which commuters could look forward to include the widening of the northbound carriageway of the Uriah Butler Highway from Chaguanas to Radio Beacon (designs completed and procurement scheduled for August);widening of the last section of the Beetham Highway to six lanes from National Petroleum in Sea Lots to St Vincent Street (construction has commenced and is scheduled for completion in October); dualling works in respect of the South Trunk Road (Bamboo Junction to M2 Ring Road), designs are ongoing and work is scheduled to begin in October; reconstruction of the Arouca River Bridge at Trincity Mall and the widening of the westbound carriageway of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway to Piarco, to begin in June and end in October and the construction of a four lane highway from O’Meara to Wallerfield by the end of September.

“These are just a few of the over 1,000 road improvement projects we are engaged in. Look out for us. We are coming to your local neighbourhood soon. We remain confident that these new road projects will be as successful as our past endeavours,” he said. In a subsequent statement issued by his office but not bearing his signature, Imbert dismissed speculation in the press that the current road paving and road rehabilitation/upgrade programme taking place all over the country was associated with the election.

The statement said while these works were taking place during the election period, Government through the Works Ministry “has been planning this comprehensive programme of road works since 2009.” The statement continued that Imbert has made several announcements about the planned programme of paving work for this year at post-Cabinet news conferences and other public functions which have been reported in the press.

The bulk of these works was scheduled to take place in this year’s dry season “in order to maximise productivity.” The statement indicated it was “common knowledge” that the Finance Ministry raised the necessary funds for this exercise by way of money auctions earlier this year.

Road work is taking place throughout the country courtesy of the PURE and will continue for the remainder of the year. Construction of box drains, culverts and bridges and widening and strengthening of roads and highway upgrades are also underway. PURE is based on requests received by the ministry from interest groups and individuals and it is the intention that “no area of TT shall be left out of this programme.”

During the commissioning ceremony, Imbert said the new Macoya Bridge will significantly reduce the effects of flooding in the area. He said the overhead gantry signs, the first of their kind in Trinidad and Tobago, could withstand hurricane force winds up to 125 miles per hour and are designed to improve our highways to international standards. Imbert added that the work on the bridge and gantry signs was done by local contractors, in time and within budget.

Speaking afterwards with reporters, Imbert said the ministry would not be seeking to recover the costs for damage to the Bailey bridge which was previously located at the site of the new Macoya Bridge. That bridge was damaged last year when a truck collided into it. The driver of the truck who was killed in the crash was the owner of the truck as well.

However with respect to the Balandra Bridge which collapsed last August when a heavy crane was driven across it, Imbert said, “ We will be seeking to recover the costs from the contractor.”

He also expressed sympathy to the family of the victims of a collision near the Gasparillo flyover on Tuesday. Three people from one family were killed in that crash. One of them Naitram “Alphie” Subiah, was chairman of former UNC Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal’s constituency office. The other fatalities were Subiah’s wife Maureen and his daughter Crystal.

Speaking to reporters after the commissioning of the new Macoya Bridge and gantry signs, Imbert said, “I would just want to ask people to be careful but I really want to express my deepest sympathies to the families.”



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