Front Page
March 4, 2005

Construction Work on the controversial Cross Country Road has begun.

The project had become a centrepiece of political debate especially in recent times, has occupied the attention of many persons on both sides of the political fence. {{more}}

The Cross Country Road was a major campaign issue by the Unity Labour Party during the 2001 elections.

The focus continued thereafter with the opposition New Democratic Party highlighting environmental concerns in condemnation of plans to go ahead with the project.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves expressed confidence in the main contractor to whom the project was given, a Taiwanese firm called Overseas Engineering Construction Development Company (OECD)

However, when that firm in turn awarded a sub-contract to a local company, Franco Construction, to build the first phase of the project, the opposition NDP heightened its protest.

The NDP protested what they called the lack of transparency in the awarding of the contract to Franco Construction, a firm owned by brothers of the Transport, Works and Housing Minister Julian Francis.

Calls for Francis’ resignation echoed as part of the NDP’s efforts to thwart the project. There were several instances in which the Parliamentary Opposition walked out of the House of Assembly since they refused to sit while Francis participated in debates. All this in attempts to step up the pressure on Francis.

In recent times however the issue seemed to have become muted.

The government had always insisted though that they were going to proceed with what they called the first phase of the project with the widening of roads from Troumaca to Rose Hall.

Now, Dr. Gonsalves and his Cabinet have proceeded with the initial stages of the venture. The widening of roads from Troumaca and Rose Hall, on the Leeward end and in Byera on the Windward district will form the base for the anticipated link across the nation’s mountain range.

Activity has intensified ostensibly in those two North Leeward villages. Material has been removed from the road sides, and retaining walls have been erected to cater for the foundation of that roadway.

Environmental studies on the vital Cross Country Road are still to be done.

Transport, Works and Housing Minister skirted the issue of the project when he addressed a media conference last Tuesday. Francis seemed not so taken up with the Cross Country Road. He placed it in the realms of a programme of construction, which was taking place throughout the nation.

He cited the demand for aggregate as one of the signals of intense infrastructural enhancement he outlined his government was undertaking.

Meanwhile construction is proceeding apace at Rose Hall.