The controversy surrounding the construction of a 260 feet long revetment at Baracara has escalated with contractor Mark Gupta placing the blame on Regional Engineer Rupesh Persaud.
Residents are also weighing in, calling for the engineer to be sacked immediately.
In a letter dated September 29, 2016, and addressed to the Regional Executive Officer, Gupta said that he worked with a bill of quantities received and upon Persaud’s instructions.
In his letter he said that “complaints were made that the revetment was too close to the school fence. I worked with instructions from the Regional Engineer and the clerk of works at that time (Mr. Loch). Both were present at the site and pointed out the placement of the revetment. Two residents from the village, Mr. Caesar and Mr. Amsterdam, were also present during the discussion. I followed instructions from the regional workers and built the revetment as directed.” He was allegedly told that it was impossible to construct the design the residents wanted at the location.
The residents had asked that the revetment be built further out into the river. They had also asked that 60-foot piles be used. They had protested and stopped the work.
But Gupta said he contacted Persaud who told him to proceed with the work, since he is working with instructions and designs.
The engineer’s estimate showed that 30-foot piles be used.
Concerning the use of Mora, Gupta said that “my bill of quantities clearly states that either mora/bullet-wood is acceptable. In addition to that, before commencing work in the Creek I asked the Regional Engineer which species of wood is preferable, since both species listed are the same price. He told me to use any of my preference; thus I used Mora.”
With regards to the backfilling of the area to the correct height, Gupta said: “according to the engineer’s bill of quantities, it specified to backfill the revetment. The engineer did not mention anything in the bill about importing materials. Therefore, materials from the area were used to backfill, including all excavated materials.”
Gupta also denied that he is refusing to finish the project, and said he has done all the remedial work that he was directed to do. He said he is also willing to back-fill the area some more, but is waiting on Persaud to return to the area and advise him from where he is to collect the dirt.
Persaud, he said should have returned to the area a long time ago, but has not done so despite being instructed.
The contractor said he has taken responsibility for damage done to a walkway and has returned and constructed a new walkway. He has also constructed a stairway and railing for the elderly to have easy access to and from the medical center.
Concerning the seepage, Gupta mentioned that he drew this to the Engineer’s attention, but was ignored.
“I told Persaud that we can use money…to buy some appropriate material to stop the seepage, but he refused.”
Baracara residents stated that they are now getting a full picture of what occurred. They feel that the objective was to pass off substandard work on them and let it ride since they live in the river and no one will pay heed.
They had staged a protest which brought the work to a halt. But on the advice of the Regional Engineer the contractor was told to resume work.
However, the residents are maintaining their stand and want a full investigation into the entire project, including the evaluation, tendering, awarding, supervision and execution of the project.
The Baracara revetment work was awarded by the Regional Administration of Region 6 to cost of $7.1M. Gupta has since been paid $5.5 M of that amount.
Headmistress Kim Sampson and Chairman of the Community Development Council, Marshall Thompson along with other residents including Cyril Amsterdam and medic Carl Amsterdam among others had stated that they were never consulted by the relevant authorities before the works commenced.
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