Hunter Street to be completed within two weeks; Sheriff/Mandela August deadline unlikely

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By Kurt Campbell

Having taken over works on the once derelict Hunter Street during the latter part of 2020, Vieira 66 Logistics on Wednesday assured that the ongoing road rehabilitation works will be completed by April 12, 2021, or even sooner.

The assurance on completing what is one of the main access roads, from the East Bank corridor into Georgetown, came as Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill resisted downpours to carry out a scheduled inspection of road works along Hunter Street and the Sheriff/Mandela Road.

But while citizens will soon get relief with the completion of Hunter Street, the contracting firm for the Sherriff/Mandela Road – Sinohydro Corporation Ltd – was iffy about recommitting to its August deadline.

Both contractors complained on Wednesday about the impact of inclement weather on works moving forward. Speaking to the News Room, Mathew Vieira of Vieira 66 Logistics, said that despite the minor setbacks with the rain in recent days, the project is some 80 per cent completed.

“We have an April 12 deadline but we will be complete before then. Everything going well, although we had some hindrance earlier with the rain… we just need to get the height of the crush and run to spec and then pave,” he said.

The young Vieira further explained that a lot of time was expended trying to rectify errors of the previous contactor – on the section of the street that stretches from West Ruimveldt Front Road to Mandela Avenue.

The initial contract for $86.6 million was awarded in May 2019 to Surrey Paving and Ideal Engineering for the geometric improvement of the street, which included raising the level of the road above the drains to prevent flooding and the upgrade of the sidewalks. The contract was initially scheduled to conclude in December 2019.

Construction works moving apace on the Sherriff/Mandela Road (Photo: News Room/March 24, 2021)

Meanwhile, Minister Edghill and his team also made several stops along the Sherriff/Mandela Road where work is ongoing.

The News Room caught up with the Sinohydro Corporation Project Manager, Hong Zhou, who explained that although the road works were moving ahead, it was still stalled in some regards.

Since recommencing work last September, the contracting firm said it has been working to complete the drainages works, which is critical to the entire project. While road widening has commenced, the placement of crush and run and paving is largely dependent on the completion of drainage works.

The Project Manager said the relocation and replacement of several pipelines belonging to the Guyana Water Inc. have caused some setbacks in that regard.

“At Mandela Avenue, we have some challenges with GWI pipework… hopefully we finish all of that by the end of this month and then we can start road widening,” he explained.

Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill and officials of Sinohydro Corporation Ltd inspect works at the Sherriff/Mandela Road (Photo: News Room/March 24, 2021)

Taking everything into account, including the inclement weather, the contracting firm said the August 4, 2021 deadline, which was in place since last year, seems unlikely.

“By August, I don’t think we may be able to complete all the works due to the holding by GWI pipes but I will try my best to finish all the works,” he added.

The Sheriff Street – Mandela Avenue roadway was constructed in the 1970s.  The ongoing project is presently being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to the tune of US$31 million and was originally contracted to Sinohydro, which has since subcontracted companies to complete the work.

The US$31 million project was launched in 2018 but was subsequently halted when the Coalition government threatened to take the project from the Chinese contractor.

It restarted when the government changed in August 2020.

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