…$600 million facility finally operational
A multi-million-dollar stelling at Good Hope, Supenaam, Essequibo, plagued with several delays and the recent sinking of pontoon, was finally put to use to traffic over the weekend.
But not before additional millions were spent by Government even after the facility was handed over by the contractor way back in January.
It is now believed that the stelling, originally tagged at $574M, saw a further $10M more being spent to add another flotation unit and other critical works.
Minister of Public Works and Transport, Robeson Benn, confirmed yesterday that the old stelling at Adventure, a fixture for several decades for travelers to and from Essequibo Coast, has since been closed.
The new stelling was opened to traffic Saturday with no major hiccups recorded.
The facility has been hailed by Government as a major development for travelers to and from the Region Two area, as commuting time using the Mv Malali or one of the other ferries was expected to cut travel down by at least 90 minutes.
Before Saturday, travelers from Adventure would have had to endure almost five hours on the ferries. Additionally, the ferries would be saving valuable dollars from fuel costs, authorities had argued for the new stelling.
The construction of the stelling was not without controversy with tests in January finding faults with the on-load, off-load ramp.
However, the problem was rectified and the facility, built by BK International, was handed over to Government.
It is unclear how additional moneys and an extra pontoon had to be spent to ensure that the stelling met safety and key requirements.
But a senior Government official said that there were questions over the capacity of the single pontoon that was attached in January. This led to government taking a decision to add another pontoon to ensure there were no problems with flotation.
However, workers were doing adjustments to the pontoon at the end of April when extremely high tides sank it. The pontoon was salvaged and reattached last week and following tests, the stelling was deemed ready to be commissioned.
The sinking of the pontoon recently had immediately seen the contractor, BK International, distancing itself from the mishap.
In a statement earlier this month, BK said that it completely handed over the facility to Government since January.
As a matter of fact, said Egan Bazilio, an official of BK International, in a letter to this newspaper, two Ministers of Government and other stakeholders were present in January when the structure was successfully tested with an 18-ton vehicle.
The two Ministers, although not named in the letter, were Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, and Minister of Local Government, Kellawan Lall.
The firm said that the sunken pontoon was not part of the design of the stelling and “thus was not built or placed by BK International Inc.”
BK noted that the persons who were working on the pontoon that sank were not any of their staffers.
“BK International Inc. built the stelling according to the design and full compliance with all technical specifications. The original design and construction was for a roll-on roll-off gangway. BK International engineers are of the view that the ferry stage (ramp) should be extended, not the gangway. The ferry stage may also be replaced.
According to BK, modification of the structure should not have proceeded without consultation with the design and construction firms.
“The Ministry of Works has not contacted BK International Inc. regarding its modifications currently under construction. We wish to emphasise that the works were satisfactorily completed by BK. International Inc. and a Completion Certificate was issued to us on January 19, 2010 by the Employer. This certified that all defects, if any, were made good to the satisfaction of the Consultants. The structure was successfully tested with an 18 ton vehicle in the presence of two Ministers of the Government and other stakeholders.”
BK said that it is not involved in the recent modifications to the stelling which are being carried out by the Ministry of Public Works and Communications.
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