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Mr Alexis "Straddy" Hazel of Rock and Dirt signs on-the-dotted-lines-in-the-company-of-witnesses

Carol Phillip-Tudor

The official contract signing ceremony for the Old Road Bay Rehabilitation Project took place at the Sprat Net Parking Lot on Tuesday January 29, 2019.Naturally, Minister of Infrastructure the Hon. Ian “Patches” Liburd and Deputy Prime Minister (Ag. Prime Minister) the Hon. Shawn Richards were ecstatic that the Unity Government’s agenda and Manifesto Contract with the People were progressing nicely and coming to fruition.

One of the more interested featured speakers wasMr. Martell Lee, Managing Director of ADeB Consultants. Mr. Lee’s address comprehensively showed that a project as expansive as theOld Road Bay Rehabilitation Project will include every citizen; from the government on down to the pedestrian man on the street. Martell posited questions that any thinking citizen would and he followed up with an answer.

Mr. Lee said, “The scope of work was not readily defined, it was explained simply that the safety of commuters is paramount. Along with the Public Works, we set out to simply look at the most economical approach to this project. We looked at the upper land area; there’s a train line as you would know that runs above here and we thought that would be the siplest route to follow. But there are many problems with that route; one, to get back into Old Road Bay which, I understand from my little bit of history, is a very significant town and location in St. Kitts.  St. Kitts has its own history and that must be preserved.”

The stability of the topography was analysed. The area was found to be extremely unstable and the techniques of Revetment and Protection and Stabilization of the Slope, Benching and other solutions, were considered for the land side of the project.

The heart of Martell speech goes like this: “We also looked at the offshore solution; again we looked at, could we use key piles, which have its problems with erosions, corrosions and other factors that affect metal, and this is a severe marine environment we have to take into consideration. We’ve looked at piling, Bridge Concrete Work, but part of our mandate is to ensure that the citizens of St. Kitts play a major role in terms of the construction, material used, and other factors that they can benefit from.

We came up with two (2) designs, one with respect to the land side, the other off-shore, slightly off shore, and both were presented to the Cabinet.  From my feedback at the time I think they were very impressed with the solution using the landside.

The other factor, which I think was of concern; most of the lands on the landside were privately owned. We have had our problems with that when we did the South East Project and we have decided that we could balance the solution by simply moving 55 metres to the extreme from the existing road edge and that solution, initially we estimated that it would cost some $US8.6 million, against going land side with its uncertainties we were looking at $US5.6 to 7 million. We were mandated to undertake the design and make the final recommendation and that we did. The project was delayed somewhat because we had issues with the variation in depth when we go beyond 20metres from the existing road edge and we executed a second bathometric survey, which we relied on for this design. Needless to say, we also had to take into consideration the environmental issues, in terms of the disturbances, that we will have to do to the environment and also we looked at consistent erosion in the area and finally the design, which we have settled on, which you will see there on display, will provide us with the best environmental solution using the material that we can harvest from St. Kitts and also with local contractors and efforts we think that the solution provides the most economical and will engage to the great extent the people of St. Kitts.”

The project was put out for tender andsome 5 contractors responded. Costs ranged from $US71.8 million down to $US40.6. The cost was negotiated down to approximately $US31.2 million.

What will the project need? Martel says, “We need Armour Rocks of about 20tons and that’s about 26, 000 tons of Armour Rock used in the project; another 127,000 tons of 10ton rocks and we will use smaller secondary rocks about 25 to 30 tons of materials that will fortify the external perimeters of the new roadway, which in our estimation and direct measurement is approximately 1.2 kilometres. And as shown there, it will start at the upper end and integrate itself back here to the road going through the Village of Old Road. We have also ensured that the new road will be elevated approximately 4.8 metres above the existing road and the Revetment that protects it will be elevated another 2 and 1/2 metres so the road itself will be protected.”

Citizens will be protected from the land slippage and falling rocks because the existing road will be moved completely away from and the new road will be elevated an “approximately 14.2 feet or 5. something metres”.

The major challenge with the Old Road Bay Rehabilitation project is in dealing with the seawaters. The winning bid contractor is Rock and Dirt.  Martell jokes, “So hopefully our contractor by the name of Rock and Dirt; at the end of it, if he’s very successful, we might become Rock, Dirt and Water.”

Some amount of disruption will occur in traffic. The narrow roads of Challengers will also produce problems.The initial estimate for completing the project was 18months; having lost time in the design phase, Rock and Dirt wanted to work 24 hours and 6 days per week; but other inputs indicated that working 24 hours might be disruptive to citizens in close proximity to the project.  The agreed time of work will be between 6am and 11pm and 12months is the proposed new schedule.

Of the chosen contractor, Rock and Dirt, Mr. Martel said, “I have worked with Rock and Dirt initially, and I have said this publicly, he and I will not get on well on a normal day, and since I have said it to him I can say it here. I have come to respect him for two reasons: one is that he gives his word and he executes it well, and I’m happy to work with any such contractor that will give his word and it can materialise within reasonable time and without any effort to manipulate the price.”

The Republic of China (Taiwan) will be a partner in the Old Road Rehabilitation Project to help defray costs. His Excellency Ambassador Tom Lee did not bat an eye when Minister Liburd said that Taiwan will foot the bill for the project. However, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and St. Kitts and Nevis are still in consultation as to what Taiwan’s contribution will be.

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