The physical infrastructure in Jamaica consists of an aging network of roads spanning nearly 19,000 kilometers. Several issues are prevalent with these roads, as they are too narrow for large quantities of traffic and are also misaligned. Most of the road infrastructure in Jamaica was developed in the 1990s.
Two of Jamaica’s largest economic sectors — tourism and the transport of goods — rely on this inefficient, and often dangerous, road network. The condition of the roads in Jamaica has led to increased traffic congestion, accidents and rising travel costs. With a population of 2.7 million, infrastructure in Jamaica fails to meet modern engineering standards for road quality and safety.
The roads are rapidly deteriorating as the population continues to rise on this small island, which threatens Jamaica’s economic stability. The road infrastructure in Jamaica must be addressed if the country aims to retain success in its main economic sectors.
Programs Addressing the Road Infrastructure in Jamaica
According to the Minister of Finance and Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation recently obtained funding for the continuation of two programs aimed at rehabilitating and restructuring the road network during the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
The Major Infrastructure Development Project (MIDP), with a budget of $16 billion, will restructure a set number of main roads, bringing them up to modern safety standards. These roads will be realigned or widened where necessary to accommodate the estimated daily amount of tourist traffic. In addition, this program plans to build three new bridges to increase the efficiency of freight transport. The Ministry intends to complete this project by the end of September 2018.
A second project aimed towards improving infrastructure in Jamaica is the Rural Road Rehabilitation Project II which began in 2008. With a budget of $500 million, this project will continue to rework 57 kilometers of roads to support the industrial, agricultural and tourist sectors in St. Mary, St. Ann, and Westmoreland. Due to budgeting issues, this project has required many extensions.
The government is working steadily towards its goal of decreasing the number of fatalities from car accidents to be under 300 annually. The modernization of roads is the key, and with the successful completion of these two major projects, infrastructure in Jamaica will be significantly closer to achieving that goal.
– Kayla Rafkin