The discovery by external consultants that the original specifications for the Amaila Falls access road were poorly designed could provide an escape route for the contractor Fip Motilall not to fulfil his contract, consumer activist Ramon Gaskin fears.
Gaskin, during a telephone interview with this newspaper, said the report by the consultants could work in Motilall’s favour especially since he is far behind on the US$15.4 million project. Gaskin said Motilall could also claim that he was having difficulty with the road because the specifications were wrong. “This is not the reason he is having difficulty. The reason he is having difficulty is because he has never built a road in his life,” Gaskin asserted. Since the award of the contract last year to Motilall’s company Synergy Holdings, he has faced intense scrutiny over his experience in road building. He has, however, said that he has build roads in the US states of Georgia and Florida.
The Sithe Global-commissioned review, which was conducted in June by BBFL Caribbean Ltd in collaboration with Earth Investigation Systems Ltd, noted that the specifications in the original project document were designed poorly and recommended immediate changes to the design including widening the road and reducing its steepness (grades). The original specifications for the project would have been in the project document which was produced by National Industrial & Commercial Investments Ltd (NICIL).
Government officials when contacted yesterday for comment declined to speak at the time saying that a response will be provided shortly. NICIL head Winston Brassington told Stabroek News that he was out of the country and said he would have checked an email that this newspaper had sent him. Senior government engineer Walter Willis, during a brief telephone interview, said that the matter will be addressed today.
Gaskin, who has filed a court matter challenging the award of the contract to Motilall, said that it would be interesting to see how the government proceeds from here. He, however, pointed to the bungled Supenaam Stelling build by BK International and Ministry of Works. This project, which experienced several mishaps, was later said to have had a faulty design. Repairs were subsequently made to the stelling with taxpayers’ money.
In relation to the Amaila Falls roads project, the consultants, in their confidential report which this newspaper was able to peruse, noted that while the project contained good general guidelines the design specifications were poorly written and unclear in several cases. “The Information Memorandum is the only document received which indicates any level of project specification. This document, while giving generally good guidelines for the construction of the work, lacks any specific guidelines for the proper design of the road,” the report stated. “Any given design specifications were poorly written, unclear and ambiguous,” the report added.
“No international design standards such as American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) or British Standards (BS) to be followed or referenced for the design of the road or bridges were stated in the Information Memorandum,” the report further stated.
Further, the consultants noted that the sub-base or road base material to be used on the project was unclear as the specifications stated in the project document were unclear and contained “an obvious error” in the material standard quoted.