A massive Matthews Ridge to Baramita road rehabilitation project in Region One is at the halfway stage, according to the acting project foreman Vincent Pancham.
The rehabilitation of the approximately 40 kilometres of roadway commenced in March this year and according to the Department of Public Information (DPI), it is expected to wrap up before the end of the year if favourable weather permits.
A DPI report on Tuesday said that a $318 million contract was awarded to A and S General Construction Incorporated for the rehabilitation of the laterite road. It further said that Pancham, who noted that to date the work is 50% completed, explained that prior to the works, the road was heavily covered with “bush” and was inaccessible, which required crucial work.
“If it weren’t for the weather, the work would have been completed,” Pancham explained. “The scope of works includes excavation of the road, the establishment of the carriageway which is 24 feet [wide] and the placement of laterite on the road. We also had to do the drains and shoulders of the road and widen it,” he added.
The report said the unpredictable weather pattern continues to be a challenge for hinterland road projects. As a result, the contract for the rehabilitation of the Matthews Ridge to Baramita roadway was extended to eight months from the original six. Pancham assured that providing there is favourable weather, the works will be completed in four weeks’ time.
“We’ve had other unforeseen challenges which were dealt with. The laterite while accessible, was difficult to dig up. Our excavator was occupied for one month getting the laterite. Bridges were also a challenge. We replaced the beams of the 26 bridges along the route to cross them. Nevertheless, we do expect to complete the works within four weeks, as long as there is good weather,” the acting foreman said.
The DPI report noted that the Matthews Ridge to Baramita road project is a follow up to the major rehabilitation works undertaken in 2017 to restore the Port Kaituma to Matthews Ridge corridor, which was observed to still be in good condition. The Port Kaituma to Matthews Ridge road and the M4 Bridge at Matthews Ridge are already completed.
It added that several other rehabilitation projects are ongoing in Region One, including the upgrade of roads in central Port Kaituma to concrete structures, which is being executed by International Imports and Supplies, and the main access from the airstrip into Port Kaituma, which is being completed by KP Thomas.
The Ministry of Public Infrastructure was allocated $1.5 billion this year for the development of hinterland roads.