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St Thomas, Disapora hurting from highway delay

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MEMBER of Parliament for St Thomas Eastern, Dr Fenton Ferguson has said that the failure of Government to start construction of the Southern Coastal Highway has infuriarated the people of St Thomas, and those in the Diaspora who have a direct interest in the project.

Dr Ferguson in a statement yesterday described the delay in the start of the promised project as “another clear indication of Government’s disregard for the plight of the people of St Thomas and the hardships faced on account of the failure to deliver the promised roadway.”

The dental surgeon by profession said promises made that the highway would have been accommodated in the budget for 2018-2019 and work get underway have all come to naught , which he described as “unacceptable.

“The people of St Thomas and the Diaspora are very upset. It is clear that there was tardiness on the part of Government in negotiating the contract with China Ex IM Bank and this tardiness was also evident in the tender process for sub-contractors. The road and the large number of people affected have become a casualty in the two supplementary budgets to the tune of $3.1 billion,” Dr Ferguson said.

The long-standing Member of Parliament is calling for openness and transparency regarding the delays and is demanding a timeline for the start up and financing of the project.

He said that the people of St Thomas and in the Diaspora have waited patiently for the start of the project and they are being treated as if they are undeserving of this modern development that will open up the parish to housing, tourism, agriculture, sport and culture and to a wide range of necessary investments the end result of which is economic growth and job creation.

“This issue will not be allowed to just die a natural death. I will continue to advocate for the people I represent. They will not be treated as second-class citizens in their own country. This has gone on for far too long,” Dr Ferguson said.

The supplementary budget was debated at the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) last Thursday and is to be examined at the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament.

The Southern Coastal Highway was proposed before the then ruling People’s National Party Administration demited office in February 2016, but the JLP Administration has since sent mixed signals about the implementation of the project, one of which involves a possible scaling down of the magnitude of the project that is expected to see a highway run from Harbour View in St Andrew East Rural, to St Thomas Eastern and ultimately connecting with the adjoining parish of Portland.

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