FOOTPATH construction in Mason’s Addition. Photos: Donovan McIntosh
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
WORKS Minister Desmond Bannister says sidewalks are needed around New Providence and that an ongoing project to construct them has provided jobs for Bahamians during the difficult COVID-19 crisis.
The Minnis administration has implemented budget cuts as government revenues take a hit, prompting some to question why $20 million is being used for sidewalk construction when even the government’s food assistance programmes have received a reduction in funds.
Mr Bannister said yesterday: “Firstly, it means that in these difficult economic times the government is still able to provide jobs for many Bahamians. Secondly, sidewalks are desperately needed in a number of areas, and they play a vital role in providing a safe pathway for pedestrians to walk along the street separated from motorised traffic. This greatly reduces the risk of them being hit by a vehicle. It also helps with the pedestrian’s sense of safety, as there is more distance between them and vehicular traffic.”
The initiative is said to have provided work for some 200 contractors.
The Ministry of Works recently released a statement highlighting the experience of several contractors and workers who have been paid to construct the sidewalks.
Latorna McPhee, the owner of Landscaping and General Maintenance, said she was grateful to be able to hire eight young men to carry out the work.
“I’m grateful, one to God then to Minister Bannister for awarding me this contract in such a hard time. Before I got the contract, it was very difficult to provide for my family. There are a lot of people complaining and saying that the money could have been used to feed people, but I don’t think they notice how many people are employed due to these contracts,” she said.
“This opportunity is providing for so many different homes. I encourage the government to give out more contracts so we can boost our economy and uplift our Bahamian people.”
Earlier this year Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said the government would implement 20 percent cuts across institutions because of COVID-19.
The Ministry of Finance is expected to release its quarterly report at the end of this month and will host a press conference to discuss the state of the government’s finances then, Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson said yesterday.