Local Gov’t Minister admits substandard work done at Moruca

Minister of Local Government Ganga Persaud yesterday acknowledged that substandard work was done on the approach to a $43 million bridge at Moruca and said that as soon as there is fair weather, the ministry expects that the work will be completed.

The bridge itself, he said, was completed but not without issues as the ministry had to be behind the contractor to complete the work and it took a long time.

The Alliance For Change (AFC) last week highlighted the state of the approach and said that the $43 million bridge has been disastrously done and the contractor has abandoned the work. The AFC said that its parliamentarian Valerie Garrido-Lowe and other members visited Moruca on December 31, 2013. Garrido-Lowe had earlier asked a question about the bridge in Parliament and had been given an assurance that it would be completed.

“…The revetment was not completed at all. Instead, red mud and a long pool of water was the result of the work the contractor had done. Persons who had to do business on either side of the Kumaka Bridge were forced to walk through this thigh-high, muddy water fetching their shopping bags, or, in the case of one young woman they saw fetching her baby on her hip while the other arm was stretched out for balance…” the AFC said in a statement.

When asked about the bridge at a press conference yesterday, Persaud said that after the bridge was completed, the ministry received a request that the approach be upgraded. After getting the green-light from Cabinet, he said, seeing that the contractor was already mobilized and on site, they approached the Tender Board for approval to award the contract to the same contractor. The work involved replacing the revetment on both sides, construct the approach and then sandfill it.

This was done but then heavy rains came and “the work was seriously affected,” the minister said. “There was information shared with us of substandard work,” and when checks were made, this was found to be true and the contractor had to do remedial work, Persaud added.

He said that the contractor sub-contracted the work to cap the approach as he was demobilizing and residents expressed concern that he was moving out without completing it. He said Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Collin Croal was in Mabaruma at the time and in contact with regional officials about the bridge. “The situation is one that is not resolved,” Persaud said while adding that as soon as there is fair weather, the sub-contractor was  expected to complete the work. “So once again it was a project that was not properly executed,” he said adding that it took a long time.

The AFC release said that the bridge was supposed to be “properly completed” within seven days after Garrido-Lowe had asked the question of Persaud in Parliament at the Sitting of the House on December 19, 2013.

“I would think that both bridge and revetment should be condemned. An investigation is needed now into wasted monies and the contractor ought to be sanctioned. A well-built concrete structure should take its place. I am asking for this for our brothers and sisters of Moruca because they deserve it. I am also asking Minister Persaud to allow the people of Moruca to tender for this job because they have the skills and will do a better job,” the press release quoted Garrido-Lowe as saying.

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