Work progresses on Hope Canal
After months of delays, the government called for bids to undertake the civil works in the $3B Hope/Dochfour Canal Project earlier this week.
The long awaited contracts amount to almost $1.5B according to the engineer’s estimates advertised along with the invitations to tender.
Among the works to be undertaken are the construction of a three-gate conservancy head regulator estimated to cost $447,019,810, a Public Road Bridge at Hope/Dochfour slated to cost $381,407,473 and a High Level Outfall Structure at the coast that will cost an estimated $638,361,885.
The head regulator will feature three five-meter (16.4ft) greenheart gates as well as an 18.1m (60ft) bridge across the span of the structure. The works call for excavations to be undertaken, timber piles to be driven, the erection of formwork and the subsequent pouring of concrete for the parts of the regulator, the erection and installation of the greenheart gates and the supply and installation of the lifting mechanisms.
Officials have said that the head regulator will release the waters of the conservancy into the canal and control the level and intensity of that release based on the drainage needs at the time.
The bridge construction will call for the demolition of a section of the East Coast Public Road as well as the excavation of soil for the channel and the construction of the bridge supports.
The contractor is required to cast and drive pre-stressed concrete piles, place pre-stressed concrete beams, cast deck slabs, abutments, retaining walls and approach slabs for the bridge as well as resurface the road on either side of the bridge for a smooth transition of traffic onto and off the 80.44m (270ft) long bridge.
The high level outfall sluice where the channel will meet the ocean, is the most expensive part of the civil works and will feature eight five-meter stainless steel doors and employ motorised winches rather than the manually winched greenheart designs usually employed around the country.
Construction of a control office as well as the supply of generators for the operation of the winches is also included in this project.
According to the Invitation for Bids which was published free of cost in Kaieteur News’ edition on Sunday, the deadline for submission of bids to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board, Ministry of Finance, is April 5.
In recent days the Ministry highlighted the fact that they have cleared almost 20 per cent of the area earmarked for the $3B canal despite the rains. Breaking ground on the 10.3km long excavation was not among the advances discussed by the Government however.
During a recent visit to the site, Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, told media operatives that work has been proceeding in an extensive manner since February 5, with rains holding up activities in the area nearer to the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC).
The government has long described the relief channel as critical to reducing flooding whenever the conservancy reaches its maximum point. In the past, waters released from the EDWC through the Mahaica and Mahaicony Rivers were known to cause acute flooding along the communities located near the banks, and left millions of dollars in damage.
Yet those arguments have not convinced the critics of the project, several of whom are prominent retired engineers with countless projects under their belts. Among the concerns are the issues of soil stability in the region between the crown dam and the conservancy embankment which will affect the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority’s (NDIA) ability to build a stable canal.
The Minister’s declaration that the project will be completed in 18 months and is on schedule despite periods of inclement weather is also another point of contention among critics of the project.