McKeeva: Roadwork necessary to create jobs
Nearly $5 million has been spent on paving Brac roads in the past four years, but government still plans to spend significant sums maintaining the new roads. Moses Kirkconnell, minister for district administration, confirmed that $4 million has been spent on paving the roads, plus $750,000 on equipment since the infrastructure project began on the Brac in 2010. He was quizzed on the issue by legislators during a Finance Committee hearing Wednesday evening.
Some legislators appeared to be baffled by a line item in the budget for maintaining 1,200 miles of road on the tiny island.
District Commissioner Ernie Scott explained, “We have 200 miles of road but we maintain the same road repeatedly over and over from one month to the next.”
By that calculation, every stretch of road on the Brac would be maintained six times a year.
Questioned on why this was still necessary after a public infrastructure project to improve road surfaces on the Brac, Mr. Scott said the budget is also for maintaining pedestrian walkways and verges and bushes on the sides of the roads.
Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush, coming to his aid, provided a slightly different answer, suggesting such expenditure is necessary to create jobs in the Brac.
“Cayman Brac is constantly having to find work for people and so funding is needed, and whether we think we have 200 miles or 400, we constantly are cutting, paving, repairing and it is done in an effort to keep people in employment,” Mr. Bush said.
East End legislator Arden McLean suggested the cost of maintaining roads on the Brac should have come down.
“We just paved every piece of road in Cayman Brac – explain that. What are we going to maintain? I understand it prior to that asphalt going down. What are we doing now?” he said.
No specific cost is given in the budget for road maintenance on the Brac – it is one of a number of items under the broader allocation of $4.2 million for management of executive assets in the Sister Islands.
Mr. McLean also questioned why paving equipment bought for Grand Cayman remained on the Brac – a situation he said is raising the cost of roadwork on the main island.
“It is now costing government more here to do the paving with private sector and we have all the equipment on Cayman Brac – that should be winding down now,” he said.
Mr. Kirkconnell confirmed the equipment would remain on the Brac for the coming budget year.
“There is a life cycle to projects. There is no private sector in Cayman Brac to do roads. The last minister took it on herself to bring the equipment to improve the infrastructure, to improve the quality of life on Cayman Brac.
“I found it a very good project, I’m doing everything I can – we will continue to do this road program.”
Mr. Scott added that the north and south coast roads had already been paved. The Bluff road would be completed along with secondary and side roads off the main corridors in the coming budget year, he said.