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Rambachan: $1.2bn in projects for small contractors
Small contractors will be awarded some 1,567 projects worth $1.2 billion, Works and Infrastructure Minister Suruj Rambachan announced on Wednesday when he met with contractors at the Chaguanas Borough Hall to launch a new phase of works through the Programme for the Upgrade Roads Efficiency (PURE). Rambachan said every constituency will benefit from the projects. They include 267 drainage, 342 road rehabilitation and 27 landslips projects. “Some of the landslips cost as much as $7 million to repair,” the minister said.
Rambachan said under the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP), 452 contracts awarded to small contractors and 827 projects are to be completed during the fiscal year under URP. These do not include projects undertaken by the ministry’s Highways Division, he said. Rambachan said 11 major bridges are being rebuilt with another 11 set to be constructed at a cost of $150 million, while 13 more bridges will be designed and by 2015 bridge repairs and construction should be in progress. The minister said he expects the Valencia Bypass to be completed on budget and on time by contractors Jusamco, Coosal and Lutchmeesingh. He pointed out that is being done wholly by local contractors with no foreign input.
“We must more and more give the opportunity to locals,” he said, even as he expressed concern that work done by some local contractors had not been up to standard. Rambachan said a lab has been set up to test the quality of asphalt before and after installation and the ministry will forfeit retention fees in areas where work is not up to standard. He said contractors are now required to put up a sign at their project sites with their name and phone contact. “I shut down five jobs in the last three days where there was no signs,” he said.
Rambachan said smooth roads are critical in traffic flow. He said one of the causes of traffic congestion in the Valencia area was a two kilometre patch of bad road which was recently repaved in two days, resulting in a 50 per cent increase in traffic flow to increase by 50 per cent. The minister said traffic flow has also improved between Sea Lots and the Uriah Butler Interchange. It now takes 10 to 12 minutes to get between those two points. However, traffic congestion in Chaguanas continues to cause woes for commuters. Rambachan said PURE has completed designs for two new roundabouts on the eastern and western sides of the highway. One would be constructed in the vicinity of the WASA pumping station on lands occupied by a squatter and the other will be built near Mulchan Sieuchand Road. In addition, a lay-by will be built on the northbound lane of the highway in Macaulay so motorists will be able get out of the area easier.