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Yarabaqua river defense works to recommence soon – PM

Yarabaqua river defense works to recommence soon – PM
An aerial shot of the Yarabaqua river located in the North Central WIndward constituency

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It is expected that the river defense works for the Yarabaqua river will recommence “soon”, following the recent drafting of a new contract with Reliable Construction Services Ltd.

At a press conference last week, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves provided this update following his announcement last month that Government will continue with Reliable Construction for the completion of the river defense project.

He said this had been decided by Cabinet “provided that a proper contractual relationship will be worked out with Reliable, that the … Ministry of Works certifies that the work which is done is satisfactory thus far.”

Yarabaqua river defense works to recommence soon – PM
Dr Ralph Gonsalves

“We have to function in a way which is urgent and necessary,” he explained.

The river defense project had met with an upset in June after the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) decided to withdraw the loan that they were providing to the Government for the financing of the project. The bank had declared a mis-procurement of the contract to Reliable, following an objection letter penned by an unsuccessful bidder for the project, Bally and Bally Investment Ltd.

Therefore, the process needed to start “afresh” and with “Government’s money”, Gonsalves explained.

He informed that there were two ways to do this, which were either by starting another tendering process “another long process,” “or you can take an Executive decision, and the rules permit for Cabinet to take that decision.”

This decision cannot be taken “in the absence of certain things”, according to the Prime Minister. He revealed that the Ministry of Works has confirmed that the work that Reliable was doing was satisfactory (in accordance with the contract) to the tune of 86 per cent, and that around 10 per cent of their work they still needed to be improved on.

“So they got a good grading, and the people involved in the Ministry of Works … and the NDMU, the National Disaster Management Unit, which is driving this, they have professional engineers, they are very satisfied with the work at Yarabaqua that Reliable has been doing,” the Prime Minister revealed.

Reliable Construction “have been on the job five months or thereabouts, there’s only maybe another two/three months remaining to be done, and given the rainy season, and people along the river, there is an urgency and a necessity to get this done,” Gonsalves also stated.

He disclosed that the draft contract has been prepared, and was in the hands of the Attorney General (Jaundy Martin). The notice of termination of the former contract has been given, he expects, as he has been informed thus by the Chief Engineer (Ag) Alistair Campbell.

“In other words they are doing all the formalities, and he assures me that the contract sum is not over the original contract sum,” he assured. The original bid by Reliable Construction involved a figure of 1.42 million dollars.

“I was concerned that they (Reliable Construction) may well say that look I had to stop and start, I had to mobilize again,” the Prime Minister revealed, “but they, I’ve been advised [said] that it’s within the same contractual number.”

“So I would expect, pretty soon, that they would resume their work,” he concluded.