Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Misleading claims about Negril bike path works

Published:Friday | October 24, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: I write in response to an article in The Gleaner, dated Saturday, October 11, 2014. The article under the heading 'NWA rapped for substandard Negril bicycle pathway' made a number of assertions, some of which are unfortunate, given the level of involvement of some players on the Resort Board in the project. The accompanying picture, which is more than a year old and bears no resemblance to what the project looks like now, is even more dishonest.

Let me first explain the involvement of the National Works Agency (NWA) in this project. Through funding from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the instrumentality of the tourism ministry, this project was undertaken. It was always to be done in two phases, the first of which was at a cost of $26.9 million, funded by the TEF.

As part of the normal process of contracting, 10 per cent of the contract is usually withheld as retention. This is money paid over at the completion of a project. This sum is usually reduced by a half at the point of a project being taken over. The project, having been practically completed, was taken over and defects pointed out to the contractor. The completion of this exercise triggers the payment of half the retained sum to the contractor.

A statement attributable to Mr Daniel Grizzle that money retained by the NWA was too small shows clear misunderstanding/ignorance of how contracts are administered. We have tried many times to explain this and other things regarding the project to members of the Resort Board. The dissatisfaction of which Mr Grizzle speaks in relation to the NWA is unfortunate, since through our Communication Department information is always shared with members of the board.

Indeed, the article did speak to the presence of Ms Janel Ricketts at the meeting. She has been the main conduit through which the agency engages members of the Resort Board monthly.

Regarding unfinished works on Phase One, the only item incomplete is the erection of rails on the bridges. This will be done shortly under Phase Two. I must emphasise that members of the board, led by Mr Cliff Reynolds, are quite aware of changes that were made during the construction of the sidewalk, largely because of the advocacy of the business community.

These were then taken on board, as requested by the Ministry of Tourism. It is for this reason, for example, coloured stones (bricks) were incorporated. These were done after the pouring of concrete for the pathway and necessitated us cutting into the structure. This is known to Mr Reynolds, Mr Grizzle, and others in the membership!

The complaint about the pavement not being roller blade-friendly is not one that the NWA can speak to. We were asked to design and construct a pedestrian walkway and bicycle track and not a roller-blade pathway.

The second phase of the project will start soon, having been recently approved by Cabinet. What I can assure the members of the Negril community is that any information required, whether in the form of drawings or verbiage, will be made available. We remain open and transparent with the implementation of this project, as is the case with all that we have been doing.

I wish to enlist the support of the business community to ensure that the millions being spent in Negril to enhance its attractiveness will redound to the benefit of all. This, however, will not be the case where cars continue to drive on the walkway and business operators allowing garbage trucks to do the same in collecting their garbage.

The Resort Board could assist in ensuring that none of its members engage in or encourage such a practice. This could go a far way in helping to sustain the investment.

STEPHEN SHAW

Manager, Communications & Customer Services, NWA

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