Mar 18, 2011 News
Attempts to conduct another test run on the beleaguered $500 million-plus Supenaam Stelling in Region Two failed yesterday, with the M.V. Torani leaving because no vehicles could have driven off.
Authorities would have been hoping that repairs conducted over the past weeks to bring the new stelling into operations would have worked, with the test run set for yesterday.
However, officials of the Ministry of Public Works who asked not to be named claimed that the tide was too low for the test to be conducted.
Kaieteur News was on the scene and had observed that a truck failed to disembark the ferry which docked around 14:30hrs at the facility.
The drawbridge from the stelling was seen to be way higher than the level of the ferry.
‘’Because the system was not designed for the boat… the drawbridge cannot operate and will only do so between high and low tides,” one official said.
When asked for clarity as it relates to the stelling, officials who were reluctant to divulge information did however mention that the actual problem was recognized with the red pontoon, built by BK International. According to information, the red pontoon was not adequately sized, compared to the black one that was added by the Ministry of Public Works.
A senior Public Works official stated that engineers may now look at several options, including lowering or raising the water level of pontoons below the wharf to adjust buoyancy.
Government had allocated over $50M earlier this year to fix the stelling which has been marred by delays and then structural problems, despite almost $450M spent.
Engineers had hoped to put the stelling in use by February 11, but discovered a suspect beam which they determined could develop into a serious fault.
Last May, the stelling ramp buckled under the weight of a heavy vehicle, days after it was opened to ferry traffic. Ferries were forced to use the Adventure Stelling which government had hoped to abandon.
Following the collapse of the ramp which effectively closed the stelling, President Bharrat Jagdeo had ordered a report on the incident tasking Prime Minister Samuel Hinds to oversee it.
Two private engineers were hired to investigate the incident.
There had been meetings with several of the parties involved in the construction of the stelling, including the contractors, BK International; the Ministry of Local Government, which was the executing agency; the Ministry of Public Works; the supervisors, Vikab Engineering and the designers, SNC Lavelin.
Key to those meetings was which parties would have been footing the bill to fix the defects and subsequent damage to the facility. However, the report has not been released nor has blame been apportioned, at least publicly.
In January 2010, the stelling was handed over to the Ministry of Public Works which claimed that it had raised concerns over some problems that were evident.
Just four days after it was opened to traffic, the stelling was forced to close operations after its ramp buckled under the weight of a truck.
The contractor, BK International, distancing itself from the incident, took media houses on an inspection shortly after and stated that modifications on the ramp by the Ministry of Public Works had caused the problems.
Late in April, an extra pontoon being installed by the Ministry sank while work was being done to attach it to the ramp.
BK International, during the tour, had claimed that the modifications, including the extra pontoon and the drawbridge, were not needed, since tests had found that the one existing pontoon could have taken the weight.
The officials believed that the modifications compromised the structural integrity of the stelling.
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