Gov’t inherited substandard work – previous NDIA Board ignored contractors reservation on design of Hope Canal bridge

Actions by the previous National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) Board of Directors remains  detrimental, as now the Ministry of Agriculture is forced to make additional financial inputs into to Hope Canal Bridge to rectify substandard works.

DIPCON Engineering company which was responsible for the construction of the bridge, expressed reservations to the previous government with respect to the design of the bridge, but there were ignored by the previous Board of Directors.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Noel Holder, in an invited comment questioned the rationale of such a decision, alluding to the fact that it could have been catered for during the defects liability period of the project.

“The contractor apparently expressed hesitation in implementing the project. It is clear that the Board disregarded these concerns and proceeded in their haste to have the project commissioned for political purposes which was unacceptable ,” the Minister said.

According to the Agriculture Minister, to now blame the  current Board for such a bad decision is  unethical and a move which is an attempt to score cheap political points.

Standard Operating procedures for such projects caters for a defects liability period of six months to one year, whereby, in the event of a breach, it can be rectified.

The NDIA Board of Directors, under the previous administration had requested CEMCO, the Consultant, to state the reasons for the identified problems with the bridge approach. CEMCO in their response stated that the contractor’s work complied with the design and specifications of the project.   Based on this  pronouncement, the contractor’s request for final payment was honoured by the NDIA.

In addition, it would have been virtually impossible for the NDIA Board under the previous administration to decide on withholding DIPCON’s retention in light of the consultant’s letter; as it was stated clearly that the contractor complied with the design and all specifications  of the project.

“The consultant’s letter also answered the claim about the contractor not utilizing the pre-loading methodology in the compaction of sand at the bridge approaches…so it is unclear how the media could have arrived at  the decision that DIPCON was in breach of the original contract,” Holder said.

DIPCON Engineering was accused in the article of not employing methods contrary to what was required under the contract  and of not enforcing a ‘pre-loading’ strategy in constructing the foundation for the approach road.

Minister Holder in underscoring the importance of the structure stated that such finances, had better  decisions been taken, could have now been diverted to other much needed projects in the  Agriculture, Education, Infrastructural or Health sectors.

Government will be taking a no-nonsense approach with contractors in its quest to stamp out corruption, by having value for money spent as it looks at ways to further improve drainage and irrigation (D&I) structures countrywide.