AFC says $43m Moruca bridge a disaster

The Alliance For Change (AFC) says a $43m bridge at Moruca has been disastrously done and the contractor has abandoned the work.
In a statement yesterday, the AFC said that its MP Valerie Garrido-Lowe and other members visited Moruca on Devember 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 AFC press release said that as soon as the team arrived at the Kumaka Landing they met with residents and then proceeded to get a first hand view of the structure stretching across to San Jose from the Kumaka bridge.
The release said that the bridge was supposed to be “properly completed” within seven days after Garrido-Lowe had asked the question of Minister of Local Government Ganga Persaud in Parliament at the Sitting of the House on December 19, 2013.

“It was no surprise that 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. How was this project allowed to deteriorate right in front of everyone’s eyes…? It is indeed unbelievable that repeated representations from as high as the parliamentary level had produced nothing to correct this situation! “Shameful, very shameful,” Garrido-Lowe and team described it”, the AFC statement said.

Later in the day the release said that the AFC team read a poster on the village office informing villagers that the council intended to build a catwalk at the side of the flooded dam so that the school children could cross over when school reopened. The release said that the Captain and Councilors were inviting villagers to take part in this self-help project.

“This was a necessary move by the villagers but they were very angry, too, and rightly so, that they had to resort to building something temporary when they should have had a beautifully built, strong bridge and a firm and dry revetment. After all, G$43M was spent to achieve just that”, the release said.

On January 4, back from their visit to Kwebana, the release said that the AFC team immediately went to the bridge again to have a look at the catwalk. The AFC said it was built with wooden boards and served its purpose adequately since it was already in use by residents.
” Congratulations to the residents of Santa Rosa! If the residents had built the bridge and revetment themselves they would have done an excellent job in a timely manner”, the AFC said.

By January 5, the AFC said that Garrido-Lowe was back in Georgetown, satisfied that the children could now attend school the next day and residents could go about their daily business without an extra cost. Garrido-Lowe said that when there was no catwalk they were paying $500 per boat-load for a trip across the river which was quite reasonable taking into consideration the cost of gasoline.
“It was either that or risk sticking thigh-high in red, muddy water which the MP found out to her consternation when she attempted to walk across! The fact remains that boat owners stepped up to the challenge at an affordable cost and they must be commended for this”, the AFC said.

Back in Georgetown, the AFC said that Garrido-Lowe got a surprise when she received a call a few days ago from a Moruca resident informing her that the contractor was leaving without completing the job and that he was taking his equipment with him and the wood from the catwalk which he claimed as his.
“Now the residents of Moruca are back to square one and in this weather, thigh-high in red, muddy water in order to conduct their daily business. Most of all the Nursery and Primary school children and their parents are now affected since the children cannot walk to school anymore and their parents have to find daily transportation monies for them to attend school by boat”, the AFC said.

It described the contractor’s behaviour as total “eyepass”.

In Parliament on January 16, the AFC said that MP Garrido-Lowe spoke to Minister Persaud about this urgent and most serious matter. The AFC said she told him that the contractor has done a bad job, behaved badly and should have been fired a long time ago.

The AFC said that minister said that his Permanent Secretary was in Moruca to examine the situation.

“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”, said Garrido-Lowe, according to the press release.

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