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Friday 6 December 2019
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Good roads mean a good life

In this October 7 file photo construction continues on the Curepe Interchange, along the Southern Main Road and Churchill Roosevelt Highway. - ROGER JACOB
In this October 7 file photo construction continues on the Curepe Interchange, along the Southern Main Road and Churchill Roosevelt Highway. - ROGER JACOB

What good is a hospital if there is no road to take you there or if there is traffic congestion that will delay your treatment? Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan posed this rhetorical question to the annual gathering of the TT Contractors’ Association at Hilton Trinidad, St Ann's, last Saturday, as he outlined some of the major projects Government has initiated over the short-to-medium term. “The best schools can be built but if the path to learning is marred with flooding or a bridge non-existent, then the efforts to create a better education system are greatly compromised. In fact, any aspect of life that leads to fulfilment requires a road to take you there,” Sinanan said philosophically.

The minister acknowledged that when it comes to building the nation, the government remains key in terms of infrastructural development. But, he made clear, it needed the co-operation of the construction sector.

For 2019, nearly $835.5 million was approved via the Infrastructure and Development Fund and the Consolidated Fund, which in turn required the “skilled hands” of the country’s construction professionals, Sinanan said, including engineers, architects, certified craftsmen and skilled and unskilled labourers.

In this March 27 file photo, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, Toco/Sangre Grande MP Glenda Jennings-Smith and Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan turn the sod to launch construction of the Valencia to Toco Hhighway Link Road. - ROGER JACOB

“Major infrastructure undertakings also require that a vibrant market exists to facilitate the high demands for material such as concrete, sand, steel, equipment and other tools. And I am sure that all of you would welcome a great portion of that opportunity,” the minister said as he encouraged healthy competition within the industry, including giving value for money and being innovative.

Part of that competitiveness was a familiarity with tendering processes, including the soon-to-be-proclaimed Public Procurement Act. “These newly enacted regulations improve public procurement via greater accountability, integrity, transparency and value for money. Therefore, if you are truly serious about prospering in this market, you will need to familiarise yourself with these new laws as they will significantly impact how you tender for public sector contracts.”

Sinanan said a thriving construction sector plays a pivotal role in the economic health of any society. As such, he gave updates on some of Government’s key projects, including the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway extension into Sangre Grande, the Toco port and various interchanges and motorway expansions and upgrades across the country.

“Infrastructure development not only contributes to the diversification of the economy but it also brings much needed opportunities to communities that exist away from the hub of commercial and economic activities. A well-built road infrastructure encourages economic growth and social integration.”

Churchill-Roosevelt Highway Extension Project

Phase 1: Jan 2019 – Jan 2025; 11 work packages.

Phase 3: Dec 2019 – May 2021; three work packages.

While phases 1a and 1b are in progress, the preliminary construction schedule has laid out work that will carry on into 2025.

Toco Port

An artist design of the Toco port. -

This project is currently in the preliminary design and study stage. Conceptual designs were completed in 2017. Geophysical surveys were completed in March 2019 and the environmental impact assessment (EIA) is expected to be completed by December 2019. It is anticipated that the certificate of environmental clearance (CEC) will be granted by May 2020, paving the way for the award of a design-build contract by September 2020. The Toco port is expected to be completed by September 2023 for an estimated $800 million.

Chaguanas Traffic Alleviation Project

Phase 1 was opened on June 21, 2019 and comprised a new traffic alternative inclusive of two roundabouts, one at Price Plaza and the other at Rodney Road. Future phases include:

• Phase 1a – Endeavour Phase I

• Phase 1b - Soogrim Trace Roundabout.

• Phase 2 - Endeavour Phase II

• Phase 3 – Upgrade to the Munroe Road Interchange

• Phase 4 – Construction of two overpasses at Soogrim Trace and Brentwood

Chaguaramas Road infrastructure expansion

The proposed scope includes widening Western Main Road to three lanes and the implementation of an automated reversible lane system as a short term solution to alleviate traffic congestion. Concepts have been prepared by the POSWEC Transportation Project Unit and the Programme for Upgrading Roads Efficiency. These plans are scheduled to be completed by January 2020.

East-West Corridor

The Ministry of Works and Transport is in the process of removing all traffic lights from Port of Spain to Sangre Grande to be replaced with interchanges to increase the flow of traffic along this vital artery that conveys 84,000 vehicles per day.

Phase II will continue into 2020 and extend to at least 2022. From the Southern Main Road (SMR) to Golden Grove Road, plans include the removal of six traffic lights and an estimated three overpasses with frontage roads or eastern link. The proposed implementation schedule:

• Design build services – One interchange east of CRH/SMR Flyover

• Invite tenders – March 2020

• Tenders close – May 2020

• Award of contract – July 2020

• Mobilisation of design-build contractor – August 2020 (advanced payment)

• Commence design build contract – September 2020

In fiscal 2020, PURE will start projects valued at $700m, including:

• Construction of MovieTowne walkover

• Wrightson Road widening from Maraval Parkway to Sackville Street

• Farm Road to the Uriah Butler Highway – construction of alternative access route

Moruga Fishing Port and associated infrastructure

It is estimated that 3,000 tonnes of catch will be processed at this Moruga fishing port per year, as well as berthing facilities for up to 175 marine vessels offshore, in keeping with EMA regulations. The land-side facility is expected to be completed by July 2021 and the marine facility by September 2023.

• Detailed designs for the marine facility were completed in July 2019.

• Detailed designs and tender documents for the land-side facilities were completed in July 2019.

• The CEC for the landside facility was granted in August 2019. The expected sod turning of this facility is scheduled for the end of November.

• An EIA study for the marine facility is expected to be completed by March 2020, following which a CEC is expected to be granted by August 2020. It is expected that construction of the marine facility will commence by December 2020.

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