It is unlikely the sluice component of the Hope Canal Project can be completed by June 2013

Dear Editor,

In an SN article of November 11, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) asserted that the Hope Canal Project (HCP) with the sluice component only 13.5% completed at the end of October, will still meet the HCP completion deadline of June 2013. By accident or design no update was given on the percentage of work completed on the other major components of the HCP, the Head Regulator being constructed by BK International and the road bridge across the canal by Dipcon Engineering Services Ltd.

Given the sluice contractor’s track record of poor planning and management control it is inconceivable that the sluice will be completed and be operational in six months‘ time, since as he progresses his contract execution becomes increasingly complex. Furthermore, specially fabricated sluice doors with sophisticated control mechanisms have to be purchased from abroad, delivered, installed and found to be in working condition.  An increased work force and extended working hours will help get the contract back on track, but many factors impacting construction progress will be out of his control such as weather (two rainy seasons yet to overcome), delays by vendors and sub-contractors, labour difficulties, etc.  Then there are likely to be delays due to defective plan changes as well as remedying faulty work.

With these and other constraints yet unknown there is no way that this contractor will be able to fully get the works back on track, and a time extension, justifiable or not, will become necessary come June 2013 if he is to complete his contractual obligations.

The HCP consists of several components, three of which – sluice, head regulator, road bridge – are being constructed under contract and a fourth (canal + embankments) by the NDIA.  Contract works may be completed by June 2013 as claimed, but HCP cannot function, ie discharge flood water from the East Demerara Water Conservancy into the Atlantic Ocean at design capacity until other auxiliary works are completed simultaneously with the four major components stated above.

These subsidiary works are an outfall channel of at least 500m to be dug seawards across the foreshore from the sluice to allow discharged flood water to flow quickly into the ocean; reconstruction of the sea defence to tie in with the abutments of the sluice; and lastly, connecting the existing conservancy dam with extensions and a channel to the abutments of the newly built head regulator.

Design and contract documents as well as funding for these additional works have not been finalized.

Having regard to this missive and to avoid further scepticism, the Chief Executive Officer of the NDIA should state categorically that at the end of June 2013 the Hope Canal Project will be completed and be ready to discharge floodwaters from the East Demerara Water Conservancy into the Atlantic Ocean safely and at design capacity.

Yours faithfully,
Charles Sohan

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