Mar 09, 2016 News
Some six years after it was commissioned, the multi-million-dollar beleaguered
stelling at Supenaam, Essequibo, is in need of serious repairs. The stelling is a critical point linking for Government-owned ferries that take goods and passengers from the Essequibo coast to Parika, which links the city. And it is falling apart.
Over the last weekend, Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson, announced that emergency repairs will be made.
The decision was taken during a visit by Ferguson along with Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson.
“Some millions were spent on the Supenaam stelling under the previous administration and in less than 10 years of its existence, the state of the wharf is one that is troubling, and so we did the assessment, and I want to assure the citizens of Essequibo that corrective works will be done,” Minister Ferguson told the Government Information Agency. This stelling was commissioned more than six years ago to the tune of $431M.
But changes and modifications after initial problems pushed the final cost to $600M.
Minister Ferguson reiterated that the state of the facility is of great concern to the Ministry and steps will be taken to correct the defective works within the shortest possible time.
In September 2013, a section of the deck slab leading to the ramp that allows vehicles to load
into the ferries collapsed, forcing transportation officials to restrict heavy vehicles and leaving rice farmers angry over the delays. The incident had triggered more questions of the quality of work on government projects.
This particular project, because of its cost, problems and importance, had sparked an inquiry involving the contractor, BK International, with neither the government nor the consultants taking blame.
The Supenaam stelling had been a major embarrassment with several mishaps since it was commissioned.
In May 2010, the stelling ramp buckled under the weight of a heavy vehicle, days after it was open to ferry traffic. Ferries were forced to revert to the Adventure Stelling which government had hoped to abandon. This particular stelling had been in use for more than 100 years.
Following the collapse of the ramp which effectively closed the stelling, the administration under pressure, ordered a report on the incident and tasked Prime Minister Samuel Hinds to oversee investigations. 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 Lavalin.
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 2010, an extra pontoon being installed by the Ministry sank while work was being done to attach it to the ramp.
The stelling has been viewed as a good investment for Essequibo which over time has been heavily dependent on river traffic, including the government-run ferries to come to the city.
Government had said that travel time from Essequibo to Parika would have been cut by a couple of hours.
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