'How many more people need to die before A9 is dualled', Yousaf asked

The First Minister was criticised for delays to turn the major road into a dual carriageway.

Humza Yousaf has been asked “how many more people have to die” before the A9 is turned into a dual carriageway.

The project was scheduled to be completed in 2025 but former transport minister Jenny Gilruth admitted that was “unachievable”.

An announcement on the procurement process for the project was scheduled for this week but was scrapped.

During FMQs on Thursday, Douglas Ross questioned why the Scottish Government ditched plans to update Holyrood.

“It was withdrawn at the last minute,” Ross told MSPs. “We don’t believe that has ever happened before in this parliament.”

Yousaf said the update was delayed because his government had announced Fiona Hyslop as the new transport minister following Kevin Stewart’s resignation last week.

Ross replied: “The First Minister is trying to say the change in the transport minister was the reason his government took, as part as we’re aware, an unprecedented step of withdrawing an announcement.

“The question was lodged at 3.47pm on Monday afternoon. It was just a little over 12 hours later that the new transport minister was in place.

“It was almost a week since the previous transport minister had resigned.

“Something happened from Monday afternoon when Jim Fairlie was asked as a backbench MSP to put in this question to get an announcement from the Scottish Government for it then to be withdrawn.”

The Scottish Tory leader said Yousaf faces “serious questions” over the delay.

He said the Scottish Government retained a “cast iron guarantee” on the project’s completion.

The First Minister said that the project had faced setbacks after increasing costs due to inflation, which he said the Conservatives had been the “architects” of.

He said the Government has already put £490m of investment into the A9, with parts of it already dualled.

More than 80% of the A9 is yet to be dualled.STV News

But the Scottish Tory leader criticised the lack of progress on the project, which aims to make the notorious road safer.

He described the First Minister’s response as “one of the most disappointing answers I’ve ever heard in this chamber”.

He said: “Last year, deaths on the A9 were at a 20-year high.

“In a decade the SNP have upgraded 11 miles of that route, just over a mile a year, and somehow that is still a success while too many families grieve the loss of loved ones.”

He claimed there is “no end in sight” to the project finishing, which would have devastating consequences for Scottish families.

“People from Perthshire to the Highlands are scathing about this government’s record,” he said. “They feel they’re being forgotten by SNP politicians at Holyrood.

“How many more people have to die before this road is finally dualled?”

The First Minister said the Scottish Government had “ambitious targets” to reduce deaths on Scotland’s roads, adding that a single loss of life is “unacceptable”.

Fatalities on Scotland’s roads since 2000 had decreased by 47%, he said.

He told the Scottish Tory leader that an update will be provided after Holyrood’s summer recess.

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