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Roadworks 80% Complete


The multi-million dollar New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP) is about 80 per cent complete and officials expect that the remainder of the work will be completed by the end of the year.

At a press conference yesterday, Works Minister Philip Davis said that he has told contractor Jose Cartellone Constucciones Civiles that the project must be completed by October 31.

But, he noted that there were many challenges with the programme that commenced three years ago.

“To date 7.6 miles of the agreed the 15.7 miles of road have been completed and 6.2 miles of road has been paved with the first layer of asphalt,” Mr. Davis said.

“In addition to rebuilding and paving works, this project also includes supply and installation of water and transmission mains, water distribution mains and service laterals along all of the roads’ corridors identified for construction. The water main construction of the project is 98 per cent complete.”

Minister Davis said the ministry has put a programme in place to speed up the project’s progress.

“We intend to take advantage of the lower traffic volumes during the summer months of July and August. This will enable contractors to complete as much of the remaining underground work and road paving as possible prior to school opening in September,” he said.

Traffic for eastern New Providence residents has been a nightmare as officials continue to work on the Prince Charles Drive thoroughfare.

Contractor Mariano Aranibar admitted that the road caused many challenges as officials were faced with identifying unmarked wires.

Despite this, he said Prince Charles Drive will be completed in a matter of weeks.

“Prince Charles was a very important component of the work because it is a long corridor that is around 14,000 feet. It has four lanes in width and it carries an incredible amount of traffic daily,” Mr. Aranibar said.

“We are working today on the last stage of Prince Charles. The closure that we have today is the last closure that we are going to have on that corridor. We are working today on underground works and we are expecting to commence with paving works very soon. Sidewalk installation will probably take us a few more days and the road will be drivable with two way traffic by the end of the month.”

When the project commenced on January 5, 2009 its cost was pegged at $119 million.

However, the cost is now $206 million – a difference of $87 million.

While in opposition, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) hammered the Ingraham administration over cost overruns.

Minister Davis said if the PLP was in power when the NPRIP commenced, the cost overruns would have never been so high.

“There are a number of things that I have noticed that I think we could have done – being proactive, hedging on the cost of fuel and paying more attention to what the contractors were doing,” the minister said.

“We are not saying that there would have not been cost overruns. We would not go as far as to say that, but we can say that it would not be nearly $100 million.”

The Christie administration now has to borrow $65 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and has put aside $12 million to address the cost overruns of the project.

According to the minister, that process should be done soon.

“We have put aside our submissions to the IDB and I think the board needs some time this month to settle the arrangements and it anticipated that the decision of the bank will be made by August 26,” he said.

If the project is not completed by October 31, Jose Cartellone would have to answer to a liquidated damages clause – a financial penalty.

“[We will have to] sit down [and talk] as we have been doing over the last few weeks trying to iron out all of the issues that have caused the delay and all of the issues that have contributed to a higher costs and come to a mutual understanding in respect to this,” Minister Davis said.

“The primary objective on our part is to lessen the costs to the Bahamian public, lessen the disruption of lives to the motoring public and lessen the prejudice caused to businesses where the works are being executed.”

Officials said when the works are completed the ministry will undertake a road maintenance and management programme that should make traffic flow more easily.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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