The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

From Mexico to Jamaica: One new road

In honour of the UN Day for South-South Cooperation, we take a look at a project funded by the people of Mexico, to help the people of Jamaica.

On the outskirts of Jamaica's capital city Kingston, residents have long complained about the condition of a road. Riverton Road is no ordinary track; thousands call this home.

Kingston plays a central role in Jamaica's economy. But as the city has prospered over recent years, the situation for people living along this road has worsened. Situated between a developing urban centre and the largest landfill in the country, Riverton Road is not best placed. The landfill serves four parishes (Saint Catherine, Kingston & St Andrew, Saint Thomas and Clarendon). With a population of over 1 million people, those four parishes generate a lot of rubbish.

"Conditions were terrible. It was either dust or a swamp," explained Manoel Noronha for UNOPS, who was asked by the Government of Mexico to help tackle the problem.

"As more and more heavy trucks brought waste to the city landfill, dust kicked up from the unpaved road caused respiratory problems. During the rainy season, bad drainage brought the risk of water-borne illnesses," he continued. Nine months later, the road has transformed.

Riverton's residents have a nearly two-kilometre-long concrete road, complete with sidewalks and a functioning drainage system.

"The project has provided jobs for nearly 300 people living in the area – and a strong sense of pride in the community," Manoel explained.

The new road is also helping to encourage local economic development. With improved road conditions, the dump trucks can make more trips to the landfill. With each trip, the trucks deliver scrap metal to local small business owners – scrap metal that many residents use to earn their living.

"In the long term, thanks to the people of Mexico, these people in Jamaica will have a better quality of life," said Manoel.

What is South-South Cooperation?

South-South Cooperation is "a broad framework for collaboration among countries of the South in the political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technical domains."(Definition from the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation)

Project details

The rehabilitation of Riverton Road was funded by a $1.8 million grant from the Government of Mexico. It was administered through the Infrastructure Fund for Mesoamerica and Caribbean Countries, with Banco Nacional de Comercio Exterior SNC acting as the financial agent.

UNOPS was responsible for the complete implementation of the project under a labour-based approach engaging the community of Riverton. The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development manages the road and is the owner of the project.

The project included the design and construction of Riverton Road, as well as Portland Avenue, for a total length of 1,650 metres. The rehabilitation work included building new drainage systems with connections to existing canals; culverts; pedestrian sidewalks; curbs and gutters; and concrete pavement. 

Photography by Vilma Gregory & Linden Holness for UN Jamaica

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