By Jeff Trotman
Despite concerns about pollution and road damage from the current potable water improvement project in Linden, the contracting company responsible has been given permission to continue by the municipality.
This was revealed last Thursday at the monthly statutory meeting of the Region Ten Regional Democratic Council (RDC), where Regional Chairman Sharma Solomon warned against infringing the authority of the municipality.
Councillor Douglas Gittens raised the issue and Solomon said he had met on the previous day with Suruj Jagmohan, the head of the contracting company on the project, who informed him that the municipality as well as the environmental consultant Samuel Wright had given the green light for the project to continue. Town Clerk Jonellor Bowen had previously sent a letter to the contractor to stop working on the project until he adheres to the environmental clause of the contract.
Gittens stated that apart from the dust and related health issues that could stem from the pollution, remedial backfilling of roads is not adequately done and could lead to future rapid deterioration of the roads.
But Solomon reiterated that a meeting was held between the municipality, some stakeholders, the environmental consultant and the contractor after the contractor had received the town clerk’s letter and at that meeting the contractor was granted permission to continue working on the project.
Solomon also stated that the Region’s Senior Superintendent of Works Patrice Johnson has been monitoring certain areas of the project, such as Greenheart Street, which was recently resurfaced with funds from the region. Johnson, who was asked to give a report on his assessment, said that the materials used by the contractor to resurface the roads after installing new main lines are better than what were previously used. He said the remedial work has been generally satisfactory but the Region’s Works Department will continue to monitor the project.
Johnson further stated that he wanted to get a drawing that shows the extent of the pipe laying project but he has been unable to get one. According to him, the region will soon be undertaking rehabilitation work on a number of streets within Linden, including a capital project in Dakama Circle that would entail the installation of culverts that could clash with the work being done on the water project.
Solomon pointed out that while the RDC has administrative responsibility for the region, it should avoid infringing on the authority of the municipality within the town of Linden. “We need to be very careful that we are not taking into consideration that there are other authorities that are competent and capable of managing on behalf of the people of the Region,” Solomon stressed. “The municipality is satisfied … that the contractor is in compliance with the terms of the contract,” he said, while noting that this was in concurrence with the opinion of the environmental consultant on the project.
Solomon further stated that the project will become even more complicated because the service lines to individual residences would have to be installed after the main lines are installed, and that would entail digging back the roads that had already been covered. In this regard, RDC Councillor Charles Sampson said there does not seem to be any coordination in the manner in which the project is being implemented.
Sampson, Chairman of the Region Ten Works Commit-tee, also suggested that the lack of coordination is deliberate. He reasoned that in installing the main lines “the ideal thing was to do the service lines immediately but the people don’t want do that” because the project will cost more and they will get more money.
Sampson, who is in the unique position of being both a regional and municipal councillor, said as far as he is aware, the Linden IMC has not been collectively satisfied with the work that is being done by Jagmohan Contract-ing Company. “What is happening on the road is totally unacceptable and I want to say this without fear of contradiction,” Sampson stressed. “It’s totally unacceptable. They are digging up the road and there is dust all over the place.
The contractor does not care about the inconvenience to the residents, although people are complaining every day.” He added that the walls of some people’s houses are being discoloured by the dust. He also pointed to some premises that have experienced flooding after the contractor did some work at the Five Corner area in Mackenzie.
Sampson said that he has attended some meetings with the contractor, who would agree to certain things during the meeting but would subsequently act differently.