|Bush fire sinks South Trunk Road |
Sunday, April 16 2017
A BUSH fire along the South Trunk Road, La Romaine, burnt exposed plastic culverts left exposed since the halt of construction of the highway to Point Fortin, 18 months ago. As a result, on Thursday the ground gave away which resulted in a sink hole.
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan gave this explanation yesterday as he visited the damaged roadway yesterday, personally supervising as a contractor began repairs.
Sinanan said the incident pressed home the need to complete the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway, and disclosed that tenders for the project, originally estimated at $7 billion, were being evaluated.
He expects construction to resume no later than June.
“Tenders are being evaluated now. We expect an award to be made within about a month. I would say in a maximum two months we should have contractors mobilised and work should resume,” Sinanan told reporters on his visit.
Last Friday, the minister said the tenders were first for three construction packages, with an additional five to be awarded in May.
As the work progresses, he added, more packages would be issued until the highway is built.
Sinanan said his ministry wanted to ensure that as many contractors participate in the tendering process, and for this reason the phases of construction were divided into packages.
While contractors may also be from foreign countries, Sinanan said he expected more local contractors to participate in the project.
He said, “What we are actually trying to do is to ensure that as many contractors are able to participate in the tendering process, so that is why we broke it down into packages.” Regarding the sink hole, Sinanan said a bush fire spread from the road side to three exposed plastic culverts which were not capped with a concrete barrier.
The fire melted the culvert, he explained, which eventually led to the caving in of the road.
Sinanan said the ministry, the National Infrastructure Development Company Ltd and Penal-based contractor Total Field Execution Services Ltd, were to work overnight to replace the culverts and repair the road for use by drivers today. Excavators began widening the the sink-hole to reinforce the sub-terrain before refilling and paving works.
Also present to inspect the works yesterday was UNC Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe who thanked the minister for his prompt response.
Brazilian contractor OAS Construtora, which had been hired by the People’s Partnership government in 2010 after being shortlisted by the previous PNM administration, was fired after the 2015 general election when the PNM returned to power.
The company had fallen behind schedule, resulting in cost overruns and faced bankruptcy and a corruption scandal in Brazil.