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On the edge in Matelot

Published: 
Monday, December 4, 2017
Villagers angry over shoddy road work

After three failed attempts by Kallco to build a proper retaining wall in Matelot, villagers are now calling on Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan to ensure the project is awarded to someone capable of doing the job.

Standing firm on this decision was St Helena Village Council president John Lewis, who said for years the people have been suffering at the hands of Kallco, who got three opportunities to build a retaining wall at the edge of a precipice in the community.

On Kallco’s last attempt, Lewis said the wall collapsed, which led to approximately 50 metres of the Paria Main Road, built on a steep cliff, to cave in last year.

“The road has become impassable for motorists and is cordoned off with caution tape. For a year now the road like this and we just biting we tongue,” Lewis said.

Matelot has a population of 500.

During a visit by the T&T Guardian, Lewis also showed another area on the Paria Main Road which had a huge depression and cracks four feet deep.

“The taxis don’t want to drive on the road, so they dropping you off at this point and villagers have to walk the rest to get to their homes. Motorists who drive over the cracks have been doing so at their own risk. Maybe we have to get on lawless like Beetham people to get some action and attention.”

To get in and out of the village, motorists now use Andrew Road, which they claim is a steep hill and causes great inconvenience.

Residents Renwick Roberts and Albert Cummings said they had warned Kallco about a water source above the road which has been attributing to land erosion.

“This is about the third time the land slip away. They used plastic netting and sand,” said Roberts, pointing to the road and culvert Kallco built as well.

“We told them what they were doing would not work but they did not listen. It looks like they can’t handle the work again because they leave everything so and gone, now is we to catch,” Roberts said.

But on Friday Sinanan defended Kallco, saying they did what they were supposed to do.

“From what I understand, the bottom of the wall got slippage way outside of their scope and that is what will be rectified now. Those areas are prone to land slippages,” Sinanan said.

He said even the ministry’s engineers said it was not the contractor’s fault.

Sinanan said the contract was awarded before he became a minister.

“One thing I could assure you is that any time we get defective work by a contractor the ministry does not pay. All work requires a retention and a guarantee.”

Sinanan makes it priority

Two Mondays ago, Sinanan said he visited Matelot with a technical team and saw the conditions of the road, which he listed as priority cases. To address the issue, Sinanan said huge rocks have to be placed at the edge of the sea to prevent the water from getting onto land. However, he said the original contract did not include this scope of work.

So far, Sinanan said tenders for these two critical areas have closed and contracts will be handed out in the coming days. Both projects are expected to cost about $800,000, he said.

Sangre Grande Regional Corporation chairman and Toco/Fishing Pond councillor Terry Rondon confirmed this was Kallco’s third attempt to build the wall. However, he said this problem has been ongoing since under the People’s Partnership tenure.

“The people are correct when they tell you they do it three times. I would not shield anybody,” Rondon said.

“They have to inject money into Matelot to get back those roads to service the people. Sooner or later they would have to condemn that road. The villagers are saying a lot of money was spent on that road and they still can’t pass. I raised the concern about it with the promise that Kallco continue it. But the cost is plenty.”

He said if shoddy workmanship was done somebody should account, but admitted coastal erosion led to this ongoing problem.

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