Supply Health Centre project halted over construction concerns

The Supply Health centre project on the East Bank of Demerara has been halted after the Regional Executive Officer of Region Four, Pauline Lucas raised serious concerns over the quality of construction.

According to a release from Region Four on Saturday, Lucas made the disclosure to the Regional Democratic Council’s (RDC’s) Monthly meeting last week, informing councillors that she had summoned the Engineer responsible for the project, Yogesh Narain to a meeting with the Region to better understand a number of issues regarding the project.

She said that the Clerk of Works had informed the Contractor, Navin and Sons not to proceed with casting of the foundation owing to a  number of “critically important concerns and issues that he had regarding the quality and level of work being done”.

The release said that the contractor however ignored the directive and proceeded to cast the foundation while erecting columns within a day of casting the foundation, thus further fuelling grave concerns. According to the release, the contractor said that he was given approval to proceed by the Engineer.

“Councillors on both sides of the RDC expressed support (for)  her decision after she detailed a number of events and occurrences with regards to the project. REO Lucas said that she is very disappointed with the actions and performance of the contractor thus far stressing that they have been flouting basic construction related guidelines”, the release said.

A detailed report submitted by the Clerk of Works revealed that a number of requirements in the construction of the health centre were ignored among which were the complete removal of tree roots and other debris from the site. The REO said that it was discovered that the casting of the flooring was done without the removal of one major tree stump, thus placing the quality of the work in serious question.

This, she said, had prompted her to halt construction as she seeks to have the foundation tested to determine if it is being done in accordance with prescribed construction standards.

“I held a meeting with our Senior Engineer Elon Austin, the contractor in question and Engineer Narain and no plausible answers can be provided for the contractor’s actions so I have written Ministry of Communities asking for advice because the public’s health is of grave and pivotal importance. We cannot construct a building and in a few years’ time it’s falling to pieces because there were several defective and poor work done,” she said.

APNU+AFC Councillor Neilson Mc Kenzie praised the REO for what he said was her frank and bold action.  “… I live within the vicinity and have noticed that immediately after casting the foundation columns were being erected, man this makes no sense and I support the REO’s call for action as nowhere in construction you would begin erecting columns within a day after casting the flooring,” he argued.

The REO informed the meeting that she is in the process of contracting an independent body to conduct testing of the foundation so as to determine if the works can continue and its strength but noted that this will have to wait as the test can only be done 28 days after the casting of the foundation.

The release said that the Chief Whip of the PPP/C Desmond Morian also supported the REO’s decision noting that engineers and regional staff must be vigilant ‘watchdogs’ over the works being done by contractors.

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