Mar 20, 2015 News
…President warns contractors about time, budget
Mere months after the contract was signed, a multi-billion-dollar road project to transform the West Coast Demerara network was officially launched yesterday and saw President Donald Ramotar warning of possible
penalties if work is not completed on time and strictly to budget.
The Head of State, who addressed the gathering at the Vreed-en-Hoop Stelling on the West Bank of Demerara, said that focus must not only be given to the physical quality of work but the overall process.
In about 36 months, a roadway which stretches some 30.7 kilometres (19 miles) from Vreed-en-Hoop to as far west as Hydronie, is expected to be completed by local contracting company, BK International and Jamaican company, Surrey Paving and Aggregate (SPA) Ltd.
The road network’s upgrade will cater for pavement rehabilitation, road widening, separation lanes for cyclists and pedestrians, installation of traffic signs, traffic lights and road markings, as well as the replacement of the Groenveldt Bridge, relocation of utilities and general repairs.
The project, dubbed the Fourth Road Project (West Coast Demerara Road Improvement), costs US$46.8M. The money, which was approved in the 2014 Budget, is provided primarily through the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Guyana.
The President, in his address, said that the new road will boost food security since it will
provide linkage to various regions.
Focusing on the challenges that the East Bank Expansion project has faced with utility companies, Ramotar expressed hope that this project will see cooperation across the board.
“I am going to urge the Ministry to ensure that this project comes in on time and on budget. I’m tired. I’m tired of many of the projects not coming in on time and on budget.”
Knocking on the rostrum, a passionate Ramotar said “This is one of the focuses we will have to have. We can’t have consultants justifying all sorts of delays all the time. You must put in all of our contracts penalty clauses; if these things don’t come in on time and on budget.”
The President said it is time that they look for quality in every area, not only in physical infrastructure but in the manner that projects are completed.
Meanwhile, Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn stated that while an election campaign is on which allows “politicians to put their hooves in their mouth,” the initiative started in 2013 and was based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Loan Agreement signed with the CDB.
He emphasised that the launch had nothing to do with elections.
The Minister said that the West Coast Road started as an auxiliary trunk line to what was the railway system then in place, sometime in the late 1960’s. He told the gathering that over the years it was being developed incrementally.
“After all of these years, the road has lived past its useful existence and so indeed its rehabilitation was required some time ago. The residents of Region Three would understand the issues relating to the efficiency of the transport along this roadway and also the safety with respect to the roadway,” he remarked.
Benn expressed concern too over the usage of the roads and stated that efforts will be made to educate the public on proper road usage. He hoped that there would be a change in the culture in the usage of roads.
“We have to admit that the situation cannot go on…We have to pay significant attention to enforcement in the use of the roads. The very people who would have to benefit for the road and pay too out of taxes, would not see the benefits of the road if it’s not properly used,” the Minister remarked.
Also speaking, Kester Hinds, Project Coordinator, said that the objective of project is to increase efficiency and safety of transportation along the West Coast Demerara road.
The project has combined six components that are to be implemented, he said. These include Road Works, Engineering Services, Road Safety Awareness, Capacity Building, Monitoring and Evaluation and Project Management.
Under the Road Safety Awareness component, there is a School Road Safety Education, Community and Driver Road Safety Education Programme and Road Safety Public Relations and Communications.
“The project will not only see extensive road safety activities which are geared towards addressing behavioural change for all road users, but road components with road safety engineering into the project with the construction of pedestrian facilities, facilities for cyclists, rehabilitation of pavements, rehabilitation and construction of culverts,” Hinds said.
The Project Coordinator described the road safety aspects of the project as critical. He said that the number of road deaths went down last year in comparison to 2007, which peaked beyond 200.
“The Fourth Road Project is aimed at addressing road safety not only in the area of behavioural change, but in engineering interventions we can make to address safety on our roads. So with any road project, we basically would see improvements that would allow for cooperation and involvement of all stakeholders,” he said.
He said there is a Stakeholders’ Engagement Plan which would see involvement of the communities, the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils within the region and consultants that are engaged, as well as the Ministry of Public Works and the Contractors.
Chairman of Region Three, Julius Faerber, also speaking at the event, said that the project is one that was needed in the region since there are many commuters that ply the route, as far as Parika to the Vreed-en-Hoop stelling.
In an invited comment, Shane Garvin, the Project Manager attached to the Surrey Paving and Aggregate (SPA) Ltd., said the project is expected to reduce road and traffic accidents by 30 per cent. He said that the company will be focusing on employing and training Guyanese.
He added that the contract is for 36 months but they intend to complete it before – in about 30 months. “It is very achievable, providing we get access,” he said.
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