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NWA rapped for substandard Negril bicycle pathway

Published:Saturday | October 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM
An August 2013 photo of the shared-use pathway while under construction in Negril. - Photo by Claudia Gardner

Claudia Gardner, Assignment Coordinator


Members of the Negril Resort Board have taken the National Works Agency (NWA) to task over what they said was the shabby state of phase one of the newly built shared-use pathway for pedestrian and bicycle traffic in the resort town.

During the monthly meeting of the board last Thursday, Chairman Cliff Reynolds, operator of Charela Inn, Daniel Grizzle, and other members blasted the agency for, among other things, failing to ensure that the contractor for the project built the pathway to specifications.

"The work that should have been done in phase one hasn't been completed. We want to know about the finance part of that. A contract carries a certain amount of money for certain amount of work being done. Has all that first-phase money been paid out to the contractor? If the answer is no, what percentage is left?" Grizzle asked NWA Community Relations Officer Janelle Ricketts, who was in attendance.

Ricketts said $25.3 million of the total contract sum of $26.9 million had been paid to the contractor and that the balance (retention funds) was being held until defects were corrected. She said paving stones, railings and drains were to be installed and surfacing of the walkway and other corrective work would be undertaken under segment two of the project.

But Grizzle said the construction works were a disservice to the people of Negril and complained that the retention funds were too small. He recommended that measures be put in place to prevent a recurrence in the upcoming phase.

"The second part is coming up. Is it possible, before the work starts, for the public to be made aware of what the total sum of the contract is, who will be carrying out the work, and a copy of drawing placed in the Negril planning authority so the public can go and scrutinise? And if there are any adjustments to be made, it is done; not when the thing is complete you go with jackhammer and dig it up, like what we saw in the first phase," he said.

"There is no need for us to be coming here and quarrelling and fighting about it when the horse has already gone through the gate. We need to be treated as serious adults with respect. It is a Jamaican thing where you treat people as idiots and have no respect, and we would like to get a strong word to the NWA that we are totally dissatisfied with how they have conducted themselves so far," he added.

Operator of the Negril Tree House, Gail Jackson, said the pathway could not be used for the purposes for which it was intended as it was unsuitable for any form of exercise other than for walking, because of its rough surface.

"It is not friendly for roller-blading or any recreation. The only thing it is good for is walking; it is not good for jogging ... . So we have left out the exercise component also," Jackson said.

The project in question was announced by Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill in Parliament in July 2013. At the time, he said $170 million had been allocated "for the construction of bicycle tracks and pedestrian pathways" from the town square to the Negril aerodrome and that the project would be completed by the first quarter of 2014.

Reynolds, the chairman, said the project appeared to be failing to meet its objectives because of the NWA's nonchalance, this after Ricketts admitted that some aspects of the project had not been constructed as designed.

"What they are actually doing is playing with our business, trying to wreck us. Based on the experience that we have, we cannot be comfortable with NWA alone supervising these contractors, because you (NWA) have standards and you don't hold your contractors to standards," an incensed Reynolds said.

"If we have professionals working, we ought to hold them to what we are paying them for ... . We all know that he (contractor) didn't do a good job. Let's not monkey around it; the evidence is there," he added.

Grizzle further lamented that other resort areas had been given a facelift but that Negril was being ignored.

This is not the first time the Resort Board has chided the NWA for poor project management. In September 2013, board members rapped the agency for what they said was mismanagement of road-improvement works along the Norman Manley Boulevard.

At the time, Reynolds said the board had been waiting for more than four months for an update regarding that project, which had included, among other things, the construction of medians at several sections along the roadway and the erection of traffic signs. He also expressed displeasure that the contractors withdrew and did not complete the job, yet were paid.