It was a part of the highway which required the most technical engineering but after years of infrastructural failures, package five of the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension was finally opened today.
Works Minister Rohan Sinanan and Point Fortin MP Edmund Dillon were on hand to cut a ceremonial ribbon at Mosquito Creek where they ushered a smooth flow of traffic along the bustling South Trunk Road in La Romaine.
For years commuters have been complaining about the intrusion of saltwater from the Gulf of Paria spilling onto the roads and mangroves.
Speaking to Guardian Media, Sinanan said the newly opened portion was part of 12 packages which were awarded to local contractors this year.
“Today we have made a huge step since when the highway started in 2009 / 2010. This package five was the most challenging package because this creek has been a problem for citizens since the 1950s. We have always had a problem with the spring tide, high tide encroaching on the mangroves through the roadway,” Sinanan said.
He commended the contractor Junior Sammy Contractors for completing the project. Saying the highway cost taxpayers $280 million, Sinanan said the entire Highway is 40 per cent complete and by the third quarter of next year, the entire highway project will be completed from San Fernando to Port-of-Spain.
He said he was particularly proud of Junior Sammy’s construction capabilities as many people believed it was impossible to elevate the road level two metres higher than the mangroves.
“We are actually in the mangroves and I want to commend the contractor. Junior did a fantastic job to bring us to this stage because this segment would have been challenging even for OAS at that time,” he explained.
Sinanan said during the construction certain areas failed and the entire engineering had to be redone.
“I am happy that we had a local contractor who can actually bring this road to this level for us.
This highway cost us a significant amount of money and we paid a high price to Aecom consultants,” he added.
Asked what guarantee could be given that the quality of work was done according to international standards, Sinanan said foreign consultant Aecom did the engineering.
“Aecom has a reputation to protect. I am not an engineer but I could ask engineers to give assurance that whatever work is done here was done with the highest international standard,” Sinanan said.
He noted that there was a two-year defect liability period in which the contractor and consultant will have a responsibility to repair any defects which may crop up.
Project manager for Nidco Dennis Harricharan also said there were tight specifications as it relates to quality.
“Aecom was the supervising consultant. They are a large international firm and they have a lot of engineers. They are responsible for making sure that the materials and quality of workmanship meet the requirements of the employer. We are expected to deliver the project to Ashton International standards and we are responsible for ensuring that we meet those standards,” he added.
Sinanan also said the Water and Sewage Authority had utilized new technology for the first time by running the water pipes alongside the highway rather than underground. He said now that one side of the highway was open, contractors will begin to elevate the two other lanes near the seawall to create a dual carriageway.
Dillon also said the traffic woes experienced daily on the Creek will now be over with the opening of the highway. He said the opening will bring relief to thousands of commuters.
- by Radhica De Silva