Despite being only 13.5% complete up to the end of October, the eight-door sluice for the Hope Canal as well as the entire Hope Canal Project is still expected to be completed by June 2013, Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority, Lionel Wordsworth says.
Last week, Minister of Agriculture, Dr Leslie Ramsammy had expressed concern over the slow pace of construction of the sluice and Wordsworth said that the contractor, Courtney Benn Contracting Services Limited is working extended hours with an increased workforce. The entire project has a June 2013 completion deadline.
The $3.6 billion canal, when completed, is expected to help drain the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) into the Atlantic Ocean. Currently, when the water reaches a high level in the EDWC, it is drained through the Maduni and Lama sluices into the Mahaica and Mahaicony creeks resulting in overtopping and flooding in these areas.
Asked about the slow pace of the construction of the sluice, Wordsworth told Stabroek News yesterday that the contractor had indicated that there were issues with the availability and timely supply of greenheart timber piles to meet the requisite specifications, transportation difficulties of the piles during the Linden protest and the mechanical failure of the diesel hammer during the driving of piles which resulted in a new hammer having to be procured.
In order to get back on track, the contractor has now placed additional pile driving equipment (drop hammer) on site which is operable, Wordsworth said. He said that driving of the greenheart foundations piles with the drop hammer and the newly commission diesel hammer is being done with a substantial amount being completed.
In addition, Wordsworth said, the contractor is working extended hours with an increased work force. He added that 90% of the remaining piles are stockpiled on site and 100% of the steel sheet piles are on site already prepared and driving is currently ongoing. Simultaneously, the contractor is now driving steel sheet piles, greenheart piles and sandfilling and these are ongoing, the NDIA boss said.
Wordsworth said that the work completed was 13.5% up to the end of October with a notable increase in progress over the past eight weeks. “The June 2013 completion date is expected to be met,” he emphasized adding that the entire Hope Canal Project is still expected to be completed by June 2013.
“The canal is now 83% completed and the installation of geotextiles reinforcement has commenced along with trimming and shaping of the channel embankment are in progress,” Wordsworth said.
Back in September, Ramsammy had said that Courtney Benn needed to finish the driving of the piles by the end of November. “If they finish by the end of November they will be able to finish the work [in time for June] because that is the major part of the work,” he had said.