Analysts say ‘road construction’ is major issue as Parties share manifestos ahead of Election Day

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By Robert A. Emmanuel

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With only two days until Election Day, and the various political parties and hopefuls revealing their election manifestos, analysts on yesterday’s Big Issues called road construction strategies a major issue.

Tech-enthusiast and entrepreneur Elijah James, tourism professional Eli Fuller, and Real Estate Developer and Social Strategist within the Antigua and Barbuda Diaspora Progressives, Stafford Lewis, discussed yesterday the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party’s (ABLP), and the United Progressive Party’s (UPP) manifestos.

One of the main points discussed was the issue of road construction, with Lewis claiming that the current situation left a lot to be desired.

According to the UPP’s manifesto, the political party is hoping to introduce a National Infrastructure Renewal project to modernise the road network and conduct a Road Integrity Audit.

“You look at how the roads are constructed, you look at how they build [the road] so that it can last, and I have seen the construction of the roads here…and I submit that there are lots of questions about how they are doing them,” Lewis said.

He questioned whether budget and supply constraints have limited the ability of the government to properly construct the roads.

“All these potholes, if you don’t build [the roads] right, you will [continue to] have them next year,” he said.

Meanwhile, the ABLP focused on their past accomplishments in this sector, stating that “Since 2018 when the ABLP was elected for a second term, the roads and highways have considerably improved…however, the ABLP is conscious that more remains to be done.”

Elijah James provided his opinion on this issue, stating that it was important that government officials had some knowledge on the issue of road construction rather than being solely guided by technicians.

“There is an obvious lack of planning in terms of how our road networks are being built and managed, similar to the water issue.

“This is one of the reasons why when we talked about ministers and MPs [Members of Parliament] needing that separation of power…these two issues are one of the prime examples why it is important to have someone who knows what is technically required,” James said.

James also said that another issue was the use of constant road construction as a means of keeping persons employed.

“The reality is that there is no proper planning being done; even with the new roads that were resurfaced…you see the potholes being formed,” James added.

Meanwhile, Fuller called for a reduction in ministerial influence on where roads are constructed, especially in small communities [where the building of roads] aim to boost votes for re-election.

“If you constantly using the resources of the country to improve your chances of being re-elected by putting roads in inner-villages, inner-towns and letting the main roads which have a huge amount of traffic fall, they need to take ministers out of the decision-making as to where roads get built, and how roads get built.”

Fuller added, however, that government ministers must have an input on the budgetary constraints for road construction.

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