Friday 3 July, 2020

Construction industry granted essential service status

The construction industry which is projected to be key to Jamaica’s economic revival in the post-COVID-19 period, has been granted essential service status.

This means that construction workers will now be allowed to move about during a curfew. However, they must adhere to established protocols related to physical distancing, the wearing of masks, installation of handwashing stations, and proper hygiene practices at work sites, to mitigate against the spread of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the announcement as he addressed the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Construction sites have been shuttered in the parish of St Catherine which has found itself at the epicentre of Jamaica’s COVID-19 outbreak.

Among the major construction projects that would have been impacted are PriceMart’s new Portmore location, at least one major call centre operation, and several housing developments.

Elsewhere in the country, construction workers have to abide by the 12-hour curfew which runs from 6pm to 6am daily, and which remains in force until May 6.

“The construction industry is now considered an exempted industry and members of this industry should be able to move about during the period of the curfew,” Holness told the House.

But he cautioned that “It does not mean that they are not under the general health rules. They are still required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing”.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness in Parliament (file photo).

Meanwhile, with tens of thousands of Jamaicans already thrown out of work because of the yet-to-be curtailed pandemic, the prime minister has signalled that his long talked about Length Man programme of road works will shortly get off the ground. He first mentioned the programme that will largely focus on maintaining the country’s major thoroughfares, while addressing the annual conference of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in November 2018.

“The programme will utilise community labour and will commence with high-traffic corridors and inter-parish roadways,” Holness said Tuesday. He said it will commence with a pilot project so that weaknesses can be identified and eliminated.

“The selected corridor will be the Dunrobin Avenue to Twickenham Park corridor, which will encompass Washington Boulevard, Dunrobin Avenue and the entire length of the Mandela Highway project,” the prime minister indicated.

He said the pilot project will span up to seven constituencies, including St Andrew North West, St Andrew North East, St Andrew Eastern, St Andrew West Central, and “one or two constituencies in St Catherine”.

Holness, the West Central St Andrew Member of Parliament (MP), told the House that the applicable MPs will be contacted to assist in the selection of workers for the project.

“This is a programme about the preventative maintenance and data gathering of the critical infrastructure of the country, particularly those infrastructures under the direct supervision of the NWA (National Works Agency).

“The Government is trying to balance lives and livelihood,” he stated.

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