by Emmanuel Joseph
Completion of a multi million dollar south coast road project has been placed on hold – escalating the daily miseries of residents.
Barbados TODAY understands that surface excavation work started in October last year, on the Rock Hall to St. Martin, St. Philip stretch of road, but resurfacing was being held up as a result of a delay in installing natural gas mains and household connections by the National Petroleum Corporation.
General Manager of the NPC, James Browne, admitted this afternoon that while the hold up could be attributed to his corporation, there was a good reason for its lack of action.
“There [was a request for] us to install natural gas, but we can’t afford it. We don’t have the money. It would cost us $200,000 to put in the piping, equipment and install the gas to properties and another half million dollars to cut the trench. There was no budget for it and things tight, we can’t afford it,” Browne explained.
The NPC general manager disclosed that discussions were currently ongoing between his officials and those from the Ministry of Transport and Works “to see where we can get the money from”.
“So something should happen in the next couple of days,” he added.
Asked if he was optimistic, Browne could not say, reiterating that money was tight.
In the meantime, angry residents are complaining that, not only is the “deplorable” state of the road a major inconvenience and irritation, but more importantly, the past seven months of dust, was posing a threat to their health and livelihood.
They are insisting that whoever was responsible for speeding up the completion of the project, which is being carried out by Rayside Construction, should do so without further delay.
When a team from Barbados TODAY toured the area this morning, there was evidence of a highway not fit to be used by man or machine. So bad was the roadway, that the contractors have apparently provided an alternative route, which had become an equally a rough ride.
“The Rock Hall section down there is finished, but we can’t pave it because the natural gas ain’t gone in, so it don’t make sense doing [surfacing] and then have to dig it up again,” a site worker explained.
“So, as you can see, we are digging up this section up here (Harlington to St. Martin),” the worker pointed out.
But a female resident of Gemswick lamented: “The road is deplorable, and went it rains, it floods and is muddy. The dust is bad and the water truck don’t come too often. They tell us the delay in finishing the road, is because the natural gas has to put down.”
Another householder whose home in a stone’s throw away from the Rock Hall road, lamented that she had to clean dust from her furniture several times a day.
“I tired eating marl. The dust is affecting my voice. I ain’t accustomed to this,” she said, while pointing to a dusty cabinet.
A few meters along the way nearer to the Harlington section, businesswoman Shan Cumberbatch showed the team from Barbados TODAY a closed workshop, where she had been restoring furniture for the past 20 years.
“I had to closed my workshop and take all the clients’ furniture inside the house because of the layers of dust settling on them. I am not so much upset that the road is being rebuilt, but the fact that they (contractors) don’t wet the road on weekends,” Cumberbatch declared.
She said she was accustomed sitting outside doing her work, but could not do that any longer.
“They are digging up the road in patches, and there is a well there (near her home) they were digging and the machine kept breaking down. The other thing is that they put down mud to form a temporary side walk. I thought they would have put down concrete. The whole situation is deplorable,” asserted the mother.
Traffic travelling toward St. Martin, now has to divert at a point in Harlington.
In another St. Philip community, work on another road project appears to be going at snail’s pace.
When the team from this newspaper visited the highway that stretched between the Drax Hall and Brighton areas, two detour sides greeted us as workmen from Rayside Construction were on the job one section of the road. Outside of those two closed sections, the rest of the stretch remained in a serious state of disrepair.
Residents noted that this year’s will be the third Crop-Over season that would have taken place with the road in such a state. [email protected]