Sort the roads and telecoms out now, say Chamber chiefs

Sinead McLaughlin, Chief Executive, Londonderry Chamber, Clive Coleman, Contracts Director Regional & City Airports, Toni Forrester, Chief Executive, Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce.
Sinead McLaughlin, Chief Executive, Londonderry Chamber, Clive Coleman, Contracts Director Regional & City Airports, Toni Forrester, Chief Executive, Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce.

The leaders of Chambers of Commerce on either side of the border say poor road connections and telecoms infrastructure are restricting businesses in Londonderry and Donegal and have both called on policy makers to do something about it in 2016.

Sinead McLaughlin and Toni Forrester, the Chief Executives of Londonderry and Letterkenny Chambers respectively, say it’s time for key decision makers to stop agreeing privately that the roads to the North West are terrible and to actually seize the moment and do something about it.

Writing in the latest edition of CONNECTED Business Magazine, Ms McLaughlin, states: “In private many of Northern Ireland’s most senior decision-makers say similar things. ‘Why on earth,’ they typically ask, ‘is there not a good road between Belfast and Derry?’

“Yet their dismay at the absence of an adequate road connection between Northern Ireland’s two major cities has not translated into the action needed to build it.

“That gap between recognising what needs to be done and taking the necessary decisions is symptomatic of the culture of government in Northern Ireland that causes problems for our businesses.”

She says that the poor road and longer-than-should-be travel time is causing problems for hauliers, transport firms, owners and managers.

“What would an improved A6 mean for us? Our businesses would become more productive.

“It would become more productive. It would increase the travel-to-work area and so make the labour market more efficient.

“It would extend market size for businesses not just in the North West, but also in the East, and it would help to make our sub-region financially independent.

“In addition, a major road improvement scheme would of itself help to revitalise the construction industry.

“The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce has a strong message for our politicians: Make Government here work. And in doing so, give us a decent road connection with Belfast.”

Ms Forrester also called for better roads. telecoms and electricity connections.

“In terms of transport networks we will continue to lobby governments on the A5/N4, the main road linking Donegal with Dublin.

“Bearing in mind there is little in the way of public transport and no rail network this is little in the way of public transport and no rail network this route is a vital link for businesses whose customers are based in Dublin or mainland Europe.

“The funding for this road and the county roads linking to it became casualties of the recent cuts but we remain hopeful that this strategic route will commence in the medium term.”