Apr 14, 2017 News
Even though the $46.6M contract has been awarded for the repairs of the Hope Bridge on the East Coast of Demerara, actual works on the structure have not yet started. Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson explained that
this is because the two faulty approaches to the bridge continue to sink.
“What is happening is we have to let it fully sink. We still have to monitor the settlement before any attempt to repair the bridge is made,” Patterson told Kaieteur News recently.
Meanwhile, Veteran Engineer Charles Ceres is contending that the explanation given for the delay “makes no sense,” and represents “massive incompetence”.
“The settlement is induced by load, so when you wait for the settlement to be completed, and then you impose additional load, what do you think is going to happen? Is it going to stop settling miraculously? Of course not,” Ceres said, referring to the fact that the bridge continues to be traversed by thousands of vehicles daily – including heavy duty trucks and machinery.
The Managing Director of Ceres Ground Structures Engineering Consultants is warning the government that the bridge repairs being embarked on, will not work.
Ceres went ahead to predict that “Whatever money they are going to spend there, they are going to waste it.”
In an interview with this newspaper, the veteran engineer challenged that the repair works to the bridge are being pursued without any sound geotechnical knowledge.
“I am saying to you, without fear of contradiction, they don’t know exactly what is going on out there. None of them are qualified geotechnical engineers, so they don’t know. They are informed by conjecture,” Ceres opined.
He went further to question, “Are they sure that settlement is the problem here? Or is it something else that is the problem?”
Ceres is arguing that “If you have an embankment – and that embankment is 20 feet high, the unit weight of that material is about 100 pounds, so you’re putting on about 2000 pounds per square foot. That doesn’t induce the kind of settlement you’re seeing there.”
“There is more to it than what meets the eye,” the engineer added.
In an invited comment to respond to the concerns of the veteran engineer, Permanent Secretary (Ag) of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Geoffrey Vaughn, indicated that he was not prepared to have a back and forth on the issue.
“All engineers have their own opinion, and I respect that,” Vaughn said.
Informed specifically about a prediction that the bridge is likely to fail, the government engineer responded, “I don’t want to say yes, I don’t want to say no. If we have to make any adjustments, it will be done.”
The Head of the Work Services Group told Kaieteur News also that a study has been embarked on to determine, among other things, the rate of settlement of the bridges’ approaches.
“In the coming weeks, we should be able to say for sure, what these are,” Vaughn said.
The bridge component of the $3.6B Northern Relief Channel at Hope/Dochfour, East Coast Demerara, failed after being in use for less than four years.
The structure, which initially cost the country $350M, now has to be rectified at the cost of exactly $46, 571,074.
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