Hardat Singh, the contractor responsible for building the Moruca Bridge says the work done on the structure is “good work”; that it was built according to contractual specifications, and that dissatisfaction should be aimed at the deficient designs he was handed by the region.
Singh, who was awarded the contract to build the bridge which connects the Region One villages of Kumaka and San Jose, and two revetments on both sides of the road leading to the bridge in 2012, said that when he was given the design by regional officials in 2012 he pointed out to them several flaws,
and warned that if they decided to go ahead the outcome would not be a very good one.
He said the dimensions of the piles he was required to use in the bridge’s construction were wrong. Also, he said, the site where the bridge is built still has remnants of bridges which were built before the newest structure. Singh said that building over old structures is always problematic and has the propensity to affect the quality of new structures. He said he suggested that the site be excavated to remove the remains of the old structures. This suggestion though, was met with cries of inadequate funds, Singh said.
Where the revetment is concerned, he said the sheets he was required to use in the construction of the revetment were too short and he suggested that a dam be built behind the revetment so that if the structure became inadequate over time, as he figured it would, the dam would still be there to reinforce the revetment.
He said he was also told by local government officials that there was not enough money to facilitate his suggestion.
Singh said many of the complications associated with the project, especially those related to the quality of the structure, stem from the inadequacy of the designs.
The cost for the project was initially $28 million but complications saw government allocating additional funds, pushing the final cost to around $43 million. But, even after the additional funds were sourced and the design altered, he said, the dimensions of the piles prescribed were still inadequate.
For instance, the specification for the elevation of the bridge’s approach, which is seen under water in the photo above, was too low. Singh said he noted the deficiency in the design and decided to go six inches higher than he was contracted to. Even then, he said, it was still not enough.
There were so many things that could have been improved in the design, Singh said, but instead of improving them he was urged to work according to the initial designs. He said his most recent complaint was made to Region One’s Executive Officer, who reportedly told him that nothing could be done and that he should continue the work.
Stabroek News was unsuccessful in attempts to contact the REO.
Singh, who said he has been in construction for over a decade and has done numerous such works, lamented that the Moruca Bridge and the nearby revetment were the worst projects he has ever undertaken.
He also blamed some of the residents for the reduced quality of the structure. He said that about two hours after his workers finished casting the concrete approach to the bridge residents started moving across with bicycles, cars, and other vehicles.
He also said that the Alliance for Change (AFC) and regional officials are trying to demonize him for removing the materials they used to build a catwalk to get across the water, even though the materials belonged to him.
He explained that the boards they used for the structure are used to load and offload his machinery from the vessel which brought them to the region. The materials, he said, were being stored at a shop near the bridge and they were taken without his permission. Singh said that he needed the boards to get his machinery back into the vessel which brought them, as he was preparing to leave the area.
He said he called the village Toshao to ask why his materials had been used without his permission. Singh said that the exchange quickly became very animated and ended with the Toshao threatening to seize his equipment to prevent him from leaving without finishing the work he was contracted to do.
After he got no satisfaction from the Toshao, Singh said, he instructed his workers to remove the planks. He said that after loading his equipment he had planned to return the materials, but the worker instructed to do so was delinquent in his responsibilities.
Singh said that while the work is indeed incomplete, the remaining work, which includes some back-filling, was sub-contracted to a local contractor. He said that he does not understand why he is being blamed for trying to abscond without finishing the project, especially since he has committed to holding off on receiving some $15 million – his final payment – until all the work is complete.
Singh is also claiming that even more of his materials were taken, without his permission, to Crab Water, and used in the construction of a wharf.