Contentious $43M Moruca bridge completed, due for inspection

Works to the $43 million Moruca Bridge are finally complete and engineers will soon perform an inspection to ensure that contractual specifications were met, Region One’s Regional Executive Officer (REO) Nigel Fisher says.

It is not yet certain if the citizens are satisfied with the finished product, and calls to APNU MP Joseph Harmon and AFC MP Valerie Garrido-Lowe–who both visited the site earlier this year—to get their reactions on the development were unsuccessful.

Hardat Singh, the contractor who was awarded the contract to build the bridge in 2012, had been criticised by residents and observers for carrying out substandard work and for taking too long to complete the bridge.

The contract was awarded in 2012 and was supposed to be completed in a matter of months. Singh, though, says that several aspects of the structure’s designs had to be changed. That, he argues, combined with inclement weather, is to blame for the extended delay. With regard to the quality of the bridge, he has long held that he disapproved of the bridge’s design and that he pointed this out to the regional officials who contracted him to build the structure. He said, however, that his protests fell on deaf ears and that he was instructed to go ahead with the project in accordance with the exact design.

In January, the AFC released pictures of the bridge’s submerged approach. In the picture, villagers were seen making their way to the bridge via a makeshift catwalk they built with some of Singh’s materials. The AFC argued that the bridge was shabbily built and blamed Singh for what they saw as a botched job. Subsequently, APNU visited the area and made similar observations.

Singh says that the bridge was built to contractual specifications, although it was not quite complete. Some residents had raised concerns that the contractor, who is not a resident of Region One, was preparing to leave the region without properly completing the bridge after they observed that he was loading his equipment onto a boat.

However, Singh had said that the work was mostly complete, and that he had subcontracted a smaller firm to complete what little work remained. Inclement weather, however, delayed the completion of the work again.

Since January, Singh says that both he and the sub-contractor he hired have wrapped up all remaining works. He said that the approach to the bridge has been redone. This was necessary since residents started moving their vehicles, and walking over the concrete structure before it had properly settled. He also said that additional sand was dumped to build up the areas around the approach. He opined that submersion of a section of the approach, under the current designs, might be an ongoing problem since the area sees frequent heavy rains.

As a result, all required work has been completed, he told Stabroek News last week, and is awaiting verification. Fisher confirmed to this newspaper that the bridge is now complete, and he disclosed that engineers will arrive in Region One shortly to verify that Singh completed the bridge according to the contractual specifications.

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