− as Edghill conducts inspection of works; to update IDB funders
The Sheriff Mandela road project, which was already extended previously, will now be subject to a further extension as the contractors and the Public Works Ministry balance working on the road with traffic management.
On Saturday, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill carried out inspections at various parts of the Sheriff Mandela Expansion. At the intersection of Mandela Avenue and the East Bank highway, the Minister admitted that the expansion project will be unable to reach the previous October 31 deadline.
Lamaha Bridge“As you can see, one of the biggest challenges. When do you close this road to work on it? Because the moment you start working on this road, it’s a major traffic situation. So, what we’re seeking to do is complete what has to be done on Sheriff-Mandela. And then use the curfew hours from 10 to 4 in the morning, for maybe a week to 10 days.”
“Because we’ll have to cut off some time to allow traffic to flow. Because part of the challenge of building a road like this, which is a main road, is getting it completed in time and at the same time allowing people to get about their business because of the main connection it carries,” he explained.
Edghill further explained that previous attempts to start works on that section of the road have severely disrupted traffic and has to be aborted. He noted that the plan is to use the curfew hours, when non-essential workers are supposed to be off the road, to continue the work.
“This was supposed to have been started. Attempts have been made. The push back is too great. So, we’ve had to reorganise ourselves where this work will take place. So, this would not finish for Saturday, the 31st.”
“This will be sometime in November. Because what we’ll have to do is pay attention to get the second and third lifts and all those things we had identified, tidied up and then we go here,” Edghill explained, adding that based on his observations during the walk about, he will be writing to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which is funding the project, to provide them with an update.
The Minister also inspected the Lamaha Bridge, where it was explained that works have been delayed because of the turbidity of the canal. While the contractors were driving steel piles into the canal bed, the water became so contaminated that it could not be filtered for use by the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI).
“We are behind schedule on this bridge. We should have had this bridge completed by October 12. Today is the (23) and it’s not completed. One of the big issues we had here is that, you would realise that this is the canal that provides water to the shelter belt, which is what GWI processes for distribution in the Georgetown network.”
“The turbidity level here rose significantly, so we had occasions where we had to actually stop working and then we had to put measures in place so we could control that and get on with the work. We can’t just concentrate on building the road and the bridge and then disrupt water supply to Georgetown. It’s like giving with one hand and taking with the other.”
The measures taken include the placing of silk traps in the canal itself, to filter out the sediment from the water. To make up for lost time on the Lamaha Bridge, it is expected that the contractor will work day and night. The work is scheduled to be completed in 10 days.
The expansion project, which covers approximately seven kilometres of road between Sheriff Street and Mandela Avenue, involves the relocation of utilities; the installation of lane and shoulder improvements; placement of sidewalks and paved shoulders; traffic signals, traffic signs, streetlights, drainage; a pedestrian overhead walkway; culverts, bridges, and a roundabout.
The project was launched in 2018 but faced many setbacks under the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration. Public Works Minister Juan Edghill had explained that in August 2020, there was no work being done due to the COVID-19 pandemic and because of non-compliance with environmental standards which resulted in the Inter-American Development bank (IDB) being forced to cease disbursements to the project.
The project was eventually restarted in September 2020 and the Dr Irfaan Ali-led People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Administration had anticipated an August 4, 2021 completion.