New equipment is being bought to improve waste collection and increase the amount of road repairs being carried out on the island.
According to public works minister Craig Cannonier, work was hindered in the past fiscal year because of “reliability issues” with the garbage truck fleet, as well as paving related equipment, some of which is nearly 20 years old.
“The focus for the next year will be significant investment into the waste management fleet, with the purchase of some ten new garbage trucks, three skip trucks and multiple compactor bins. In addition, the budget will replace essential heavy equipment such as pay loaders, pavers and crane trucks that are essential to the Ministry’s road maintenance and cleaning services.”
The $4 million allocated to this end, represents a “significant investment from previous years,” he said.
“The ministry plans in 2017-18 to include the purchase of new paving machines and related equipment to increase reliability and production and to get more than ten kilometres per year done,” he told the House of Assembly during his budget brief.
And with the America’s Cup taking place during the “peak season for road improvements”, Mr Cannonier said work would focus on surfacing several tribe roads while the event takes place.
Work will be done on Tribe Road No 1, No 2 and No 3 in Devonshire, Tribe Road No 2 in Paget, Tribe Road No 2 in Southampton and Morgan Road in Warwick.
“Following the completion of the America’s Cup activities we will revert once more to primarily maintaining the main roads.”
He also pledged to look at what improvements can be made to the island’s private roads despite no money being allocated because of budget constraints. Mr Cannonier said 37 private roads were on the waiting list for improvement and his ministry had received “many” calls about this.
“Although we don’t have anything in the budget, what my PS and I are looking at is how we can assist with some of these road works because we’re finding now that even boundary walls are falling and the likes that are putting at risk roads and safety of the neighbourhood.”
Mr Cannonier said there had also been reliability issues with the “ageing mechanical road sweepers”, which has impacted the amount of road cleaned.
“A new mechanical road sweeper is slated for purchase in the new fiscal year to improve these figures,” he said.
And while only one new bus shelter was built last year instead of the budgeted three, Mr Cannonier told the House that two new traditional bus shelters and a “couple of” Plexiglas shelters are planned for this year.
Mr Cannonier also revealed that the decrease of spending on solid waste collection, which has dropped by $371,000, is anticipated “through improved efficiencies”.
On average, 400 tonnes of domestic waste are collected during the week and Mr Cannonier said “the section has had many challenges during fiscal year 2016/17, primarily due to the age of the refuse collection fleet, some of which are over 20 years old.
“The Ministry has made a commitment to replace ten refuse trucks for 17/18 to ensure proper service delivery to all residents.”
He added that the GPS system is now in place and “is really beginning to work for us now and make good suggestions”.
Shadow public works minister Dennis Lister welcomed the announcement of the new garbage trucks but questioned when they would arrive. Mr Cannonier, however, did not have time to respond to the questions.
Mr Lister also urged the Government to address sight lines for motorists coming out of gates and smaller access roads.
“Some of them are known to be accident sites because of the challenging sight line and a lot of them can be easily revolved, in my opinion, by a slight adjustment to the hedge level or the rock cut as you come out of that gate.” He said others have sight lines that blocked by signs or poles.
“It calls for an overall commitment or programme that says we’re going to make sure that going forward when things are done at these junction, they’re done in a way that don’t hinder sight lines. And then have a programme that looks at correcting some of the problems some of these sight lines create.”
He also stressed the need for trenches to be surfaced evenly, adding that it may be time to insist that utility companies pave the “whole side” of the road after trenching.
“They just fill in that little cut and it’s never done properly,” he said. “The safety of our road users is what we should be most concerned about.”