Benn’s answers on Kumaka revetment failure unsatisfactory – APNU MP

A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Parliamentarian Richard Alleyne said he is not at all satisfied with any of the responses given to him by Transport and Hydraulics Minister Robeson Benn during the December 20, 2012 Parliamentary hearing.

Alleyne had posed several questions to Benn concerning suspected malpractice in work on the Kumaka Waterfront Revetment as well as about the project’s projected completion date, considering that it was slated to have been completed on December 19, 2012.

In response to one of the questions, Benn said: “The project’s failure was not the fault of the engineer’s plan. Non-adherence to the prescribed project implementation methodology and design parameters related to anchoring and backfilling of the revetment and unfavourable site conditions were determined to be contributing factors”.

On Thursday, Alleyne said that this response was utterly unacceptable and maintained that someone must take the blame for the enormous wastage of state funds. Sixty-two million dollars had initially been invested in the failed works.

He highlighted where the minister stated that “non-adherence to the prescribed project implementation methodology and design parameters” were partially to blame for the project’s initial failure. Allen asked who was it that failed to comply with the prescribed methodology and design parameters, and if this/these person(s) were not to be blamed. He also said that the engineer responsible for the project, who according to the minister is not at fault, should also receive some of the blame since he should have been on the ground in the area providing supervision instead of leaving everything up to the contractors.

Benn had also said that “a designated team of engineers and technicians from the Ministry of Public Works was assigned the responsibility of planning, designing and supervising the revetment works. The construction works were undertaken by a Force Account Unit from the Transport and Harbours Department of the ministry which has experience in the construction of similar marine structures”.

Alleyne questioned the validity of this response stating that if the persons working on the projects were as experienced as the minister suggested, how could they not foresee and therefore prevent many of the problems encountered.

He said it seemed government was engaging in experimental works with substantial portions of taxpayers’ dollars, referring to the $62 million which had initially been invested in the initial set of works on the revetment.

Benn also announced that a further $35.2 million would be put towards the completion of the project which just entailed the backfilling of the installed revetment and the positioning of scour protection to limit erosion at the toe of the structure. All this, he said, was to have been done by December 19.

Alleyne said on Thursday that the project is long past its due date, and there is still uncertainty as to when the project will be completed.

A resident of Kumaka yesterday told Stabroek News that no works were currently being conducted at the waterfront, and that he was told by the contractors that they will return at the end of the month to continue works. He said he believed this to be most unfortunate considering the abundance of dry weather.

He added that there are several heavy-duty trucks which constantly traverse the water front, putting pressure on the “tie rods” being used to prevent the revetment from shifting. The resident said that in its unfinished stated those trucks pose a very serious threat to the revetment since too much strain may cause the “tie rods” to burst or bend, sending the entire structure back into the river.

He said the Kumaka Stretch, the main road servicing the area, has also been left in an unfinished state. He said workers had just “filled up” the road, but had not paved it. The filling he said is being displaced by vehicles traversing the road, and is more or less unusable.

Another resident, who conducts business at the waterfront, said that it is now more costly to transport her goods. She said that because of the unfinished state of the revetment, she has been forced to pay persons to transport her goods to another area before they can be placed on the boats.

On January 16, 2012 Stabroek News had reported that the Aruka River was continuing to erode the Kumaka waterfront and that the new revetment had started to sink into the river. On April 6, 2012 Stabroek News had reported that work on the revetment had stalled for the second time and that large amounts of earth which had been packed into the area were falling into the Aruka River.

This newspaper had also reported then that the private contractor had abandoned the project amid protests from persons in the business community there that the work being done could not effectively solve the problem.

The Kumaka waterfront has been threatened by the Aruka River for several years now.

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