RADHICA DE SILVA
After touring parts of the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension from Golconda to Point Fortin, Works Minister Rohan Sinanan says the highway is likely to be opened this year.
Speaking to Guardian Media following the tour, Sinanan expressed hope that no further setbacks will occur.
Driving time from Oropouche to Vessigny has been cut by half an hour with the completion of two new segments by Namalco Construction Services Ltd, which are yet to be opened even though the road is paved. Sinanan warned motorists not to use the road as it was not yet complete.
"Grant’s Road to Vessigny has not yet been completed. People have been seeing the black surface and believe it is okay to use the road but works are ongoing," Sinanan said.
"The road has different levels and that is really still a construction site. Once we open a road to the public there are a lot of liabilities that go with it. There will be risks to the public using the road, especially when there is no signage or lights."
The minister expressed hope that the entire highway will be opened by year end despite problems at the Mosquito Creek segment.
“Based on the weather patterns and so, we are hoping to have most of it completed and accessed. If any parts of it still pose a challenge, it can easily be bypassed without disrupting the flow of traffic," Sinanan said.
The highway has experienced many setbacks and the last completion date given by the National Infrastructure Development Company Limited (NIDCO) was December 2022. However, a portion of the northern carriageway of the highway collapsed recently and NIDCO confirmed that slope instability was a problem.
Sinanan said he was awaiting a report to be finalised about this segment to determine the best way forward.
The Works Minister said engineers both locally and abroad have been consulted to ensure that the project is completed within the highest standards.
The project was envisaged by the Patrick Manning government and took decades for actual construction to begin. It was initially started by OAS Constructora but that contract with OAS fell through, ending in litigation.
In 2015, when the Dr Keith Rowley administration came into government, the highway construction was split up into 12 work packages. These were issued to local contractors. However, construction was hampered multiple times during COVID-19 lockdowns with construction materials being stolen from the various sites.