After several stalled attempts, the Maracas Beach Redesign and Restoration Project has been again launched, this time to be completed at a cost of $60 million and within three to four months.
While president of the Maracas Bay Vendors Association Festus Imasekha welcomed the news, he complained that some vendors were not consulted.
Works Minister Rohan Sinanan said the project has been broken into three packages — roadworks, construction of the huts and the water treatment plant.
He said it was known that Maracas always had a problem with water treatment and part of the plan is to install a brand new plant and upgrade all the facilities.
“We are trying to keep the cost below $60 million but because of the state of the project a lot of work has to be redone and the scope has to be re-examined,” he said.
Noting that members of the public are becoming “weary” because the project is long overdue, the minister added: “Beach goers are concerned and this is the dry season and I don’t think they would want to see the dry season pass before this project is completed.
“We might not be able to complete it before the rains come but what we are assuring the population is that by the summer (July/August) holidays the place will be in an acceptable position and a place where we would soon be proud of again.”
Coosal’s Construction Company Ltd has been awarded the contract for the roadworks while contractors for the structural designs of the buildings are yet to be finalised. The water treatment plant is being done by Japanese firm MEU.
“The water treatment plant has been awarded and the designs are underway right now but that will take us a little bit longer, so we are going to get the old plant working, connect everything into the old plant and by the time the roadworks and buildings are finished the whole project will be up and running,” Sinanan said.
Sinanan said food vendors are to be relocated closer to the beachfront, making way for approximately 400 parking spaces.
Richard Ferguson, owner of Richard’s Bake and Shark, said TDC officials kept vendors up-to-date on the changes to be made and he is in full support of the redesign project which was long overdue.
He is anxious for the project to be completed soon.
“In the bay we are below sea level and we do not want equipment to be damaged during the floods,” Ferguson said.
Another vendor who did not want to be identified said flood waters left an overwhelming stench hanging in the air, which turned away customers resulting in loss of sales.
The project dates back to 2009 when Cabinet approved $233 million for its completion. The Tourism Development Company (TDC) was given the mandate to manage the project and the Beijing Liujian Construction Corporation won an international tender to provide design and build services.
In 2014, the People’s Partnership government awarded Kallco the project at a cost of $85 million plus VAT and contingency. The following year 2015, then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced a revised figure of $120 million down from the $233 million that had been approved by the previous administration.
Following the general elections in September 2015, Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe took concerns about the project to Cabinet and the matter was referred to the Office of the Attorney General for review. Kallco’s contract was terminated and the matter is now proceeding to arbitration. Sinanan said he preferred not to comment on the arbitration as it is before the AG.
SOURCE: www.guardian.co.tt (Geisha Kowlessar)