THE $185 million Diego Martin vehicular overpass project is expected to be completed by October.
Braving yesterday’s inclement weather, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan gave an update on the progress at the work site.
Sinanan said: “We are looking at October for the project to be completed. Curepe (Interchange) tender went out for about $500 million. Land and everything. We brought it to about $220 million. This project is about $185 million. And, so far, we are in budget.”
Started in 2020, the project, which is expected to benefit several communities, including Diego Martin, Petit Valley and Victoria Gardens, was expected to be completed by March 2022.
However, according to an official, the works were impacted by Covid-19.
Over the last couple months commuters have experienced heavy traffic and altered routes which have affected their access to malls, pharmacies and homes in the area.
Sinanan said the ministry was also attempting to address the drainage issues, which tend to contribute to flooding in Diego Martin and environs.
The minister thanked Jusamco Pavers Ltd and National Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (Nidco) for their input.
In the background, heavy machinery moved massive mounds of earth. Stacks of stones were spotted among wild vegetation. A concrete footpath led to the vicinity of The Falls at Westmall.
To date, the traffic lights have been removed, and work on the roundabout has begun to assist pedestrians and motorists who traverse the area.
Sinanan added: “We just wanted to assess the progress. Look at the upgrade and the drainage. We want to continue the construction. A vast improvement. We removed the lights and installed a roundabout.”
On the drainage concerns, Sinanan said there were six focal points, since the area was prone to a lot of flooding. He said: “Underground culverts were increased to 3.5 metres. We wanted to make a difference. We embarked upon 500 drainage projects.”
Moving to national activities, Sinanan also said they had embarked upon an aggressive road works programme which included repairing, extending and road paving.
He also said the first phase of the Valencia to Toco highway should be opened by next week.
He said: “It will assist with traffic alleviation. We are looking at opening the first phase of the Valencia/Toco Road next week. It should be done before the construction of the Toco Port.”
Flooding is a new norm
Sinanan told reporters that on Saturday, on the way to South Oropouche, he noticed people were building along the Caroni River banks. He said: “Some people are building on the Caroni River banks and refusing to give us access. The court has to intervene. The water has to run off.”
Sinanan cited the example of Italy where six months of rain fell within 36 hours.
At home, in April, within 24 hours there was more rain than the historical average rainfall for the month.
Sinanan said: “Flooding is the new norm. No matter have many rivers we clean, if the rainfall continues flooding can happen. They need to respect the environment (illegal dumping/slash and burn techniques). We need all hands on deck.”