Work on Palmyra monument base halted again

While there has been no word from the procuring entity, the Ministry of Education, on the promised report into the $42M Palmyra, Berbice monument base collapse, works last week ceased again at the site.

Stabroek News visited the site throughout last week and all works had been brought to a standstill.

Last month, works had recommenced where a base being constructed for the Indian Arrival monument had suddenly collapsed in April of this year.  The restart of the work was queried in light of the fact that the report on the collapse had not been made public.

The structure, contracted to be built for $42M and which was supposed to be the base for a US$150,000 bronze sculpture, gifted by the Government of India, crumbled while works were ongoing. It was 85% completed at the time of the collapse.

Since then, the project has come under close scrutiny. While most opined that the cause of the collapse was due to substandard work being done, others questioned the awarding of the project to Linden-based company, Alternative Contracting Enterprise.

The site as of last week

A worker at the site had told Stabroek News last month following the collapse,  that instead of hollow blocks being used, a solid cast would be done for the structure that will hold the weighty bronze monument. The worker, who asked to remain anonymous, explained that while the design of the structure remains the same, “solid cast will be done”.

Workers were also observed in the process of installing steel rods and the worker said it was being done under the guidance of a new engineer. “We get a new engineer take over, Alvin Macedo, he’s from Soesdyke”, the worker said. However, when asked for a contact number for the new engineer, the workers said they did not have one, since they only interact with him when he comes to Berbice to pay them.

This newspaper was then chased off the site by a man claiming to be the foreman who said that he had spoken with the consultant and was told that no one is allowed to visit the project without permission from the company.

Minister of Education, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, had told Stabroek News that the ministry had solicited the help of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) for an investigation, so as to guide the way forward.

This newspaper was told that a team of engineers from MPI visited the site and was preparing a report on the investigation they conducted there. The report is supposed to be handed to personnel at the Ministry of Education for them to decide on a way forward for the project.

Up to Friday there was no word from the Ministry of Education on if the report was submitted or what were their plans relating to construction at the site.

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