By Latrishka Thomas
The government’s Road Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project – which has been in the works since 2017 – has received its fair share of blows from the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Vickindra Simon, public relations officer for contractors Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM), essential supplies have been held up, impacting the previously projected completion date of September 2020.
“Bus shelters, line markings, crash barriers — all of these are still outstanding mainly due to our supplies. In this pandemic we are having a problem getting our items down in Antigua,” she said while noting that for Friars Hill Road, asphalt paving is 78 percent complete, drainage piping is at 95 percent and drainage culverts at 90 percent.
For the Sir George Walter Highway, Simon shared that asphalt paving is 70 percent complete, drainage piping is at 70 percent, drainage culverts at 80 percent and sidewalks are 30 percent complete.
However, Simon revealed that, as it relates to the erratic delivery of aggregate supply, “at this point in time we can say that it has improved marginally. The first two weeks of this pandemic we definitely had a problem where none of our suppliers were willing to open up to give us the aggregate that we needed, but after time went on, they were able to open up.”
Hence, the PRO said that “as of now we still plan to complete before the year is over.”
She added that a definitive end date cannot be announced until an assessment is complete and the suppliers indicate when they will be able to ship the supplies.
Shawn Thomas, PRO for the Project Implementation Management Unit (PIMU), said any changes to the project’s budget will be handled by the government.
“With any setbacks you can expect with a project like this, there will be some slight changes to the budget and to what is being allotted but certainly government counterpart funding will take care of any additional costs associated with the project, which is separate from grant funding,” Thomas stated.
The project is funded through a grant of £13.9 million (EC$46 million) from the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF), which is administered by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner of Police Rodney Ellis warned that “laws with regard to traffic must be maintained”.
He specifically emphasised that “if you breach those regulations with the single lane traffic with the [temporary] lights you will be liable”, by way of arrest and the suspension of the offender’s driver’s licence.
Ellis, a member of the Traffic Management Committee, also highlighted a major intersection closure that will be taking place this weekend.
The intersection of Sir George Walter Highway (Airport Road) and Sir Sidney Walling Highway will be closed to facilitate APUA utility works from 7am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday. The main diversion will be via Hawkins Drive.