Mon | Jan 27, 2020

Hunter: We erred in Legacy projects timeline

Published:Wednesday | December 4, 2019 | 12:16 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (second right), National Works Agency CEO E.G. Hunter, (centre) and He Jiany Bo, project manager of China Harbour Engeneering Company, observing work on the legacy road project in the vicinity of Portia Simpson Miller square in November 2018.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (second right), National Works Agency CEO E.G. Hunter, (centre) and He Jiany Bo, project manager of China Harbour Engeneering Company, observing work on the legacy road project in the vicinity of Portia Simpson Miller square in November 2018.

National Works Ageny (NWA) CEO E.G. Hunter has blamed bureaucratic bungling for several missed deadlines in the completion of the Legacy road projects in the Corporate Area.

He told The Gleaner that when the NWA signed off on the contracts to upgrade both the Constant Spring and Hagley Park corridors, completion dates were announced prematurely, as they were not revised despite the scope of the project being widened.

Hunter said it has been a costly error as the public wrongfully believed that it was a single contract that should by now be over.

On December 4, 2017, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and the Government signed a contract valued at US$19 million for the widening and improvement of Constant Spring Road in St Andrew. Then in March 2018, Cabinet approved a contract valued at US$56.5 million for works along Hagley Park Road that included the installation of new traffic signals, turning lanes, median barriers, and road markings.

“We signed a contract for the roadworks and the water and sewerage elements were later added as separate but parallel integrated contracts,” Hunter said. “We thought, at the time, we would have been able to bring it in on the same schedule, although the water works were signed after the road contracts, and it added a degree of difficulty to the original works.”

He reasoned that a proliferation of leaks and the condition of the existing mains threw the work off schedule.

“That misdiagnosis meant that the public was always going to be expecting all works to end at the same time, so that was our mistake,” Hunter added.

He said that the real challenge the NWA faces as it nears the end of the contracts is the issue relating to the water works, calling it a delicate balancing act, as the existing mains had to stay in place on Constant Spring Road before the new ones were ready to go into full service.

Most of the water and sewerage mains across the Corporate Area are more than 85 years old and in need of rehabilitation. Those running the length of Hagley Park and Constant Spring roads are being taken offline gradually, while new mains are pressure-tested before being put into operation.

“The outstanding items now relate largely to repairing areas impacted by the leaks and the laying of final surfaces in some parts, but we have unfettered drive all the way from Manor Park, although a little work is still ongoing in the vicinity of the bridge at Marketplace, while only minor works remain on Hagley Park Road,” noted Hunter.

“What we did has been tremendously complex. It has been really difficult work, and it was a great effort made to ensure that every cent spent was value for money. Soon and very soon, people will be using the ‘cyaapet’,” Hunter said of the projects, which are now expected to be completed by the end of the year.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com