Sherriff/Mandela road project delayed indefinitely; $1B already spent

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With $1 billion already expended on the Sherriff/Mandela road expansion project, its completion is again delayed – this time indefinitely, the Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill revealed on Tuesday.

Speaking with the News Room via telephone, Edghill said that the worldwide shipping delays are what will push the project past the October 31, 2021, deadline.

“It may end up going beyond October because of the delay in arrivals of the traffic signals, poles for the traffic signs…they are having shipping issues,” the Public Works Minister said. He could not provide a date for the new deadline.

The project has already been faced with constant delays.  In early July, Sinohydro – the contractor – brought in an additional team – Surrey Paving and Aggregate Co. Limited out of Jamaica to help advance works to meet the then August 4, 2021 deadline.

Public Works Minister, Juan Edghill (Photo: News Room)

But the contractor was not able to meet this deadline and a new one was set for August 31, 2021.

The rainy season, however, stymied progress and Sinohydro Corporation had written to the Ministry of Public Works requesting more time and was given the October deadline for completion.

By that time, the contractor had been able to complete a substantial amount of work on the project.  According to the 2021 Mid-Year Report, the $1 billion was spent on the asphaltic paving of Sheriff Street from Rupert Craig Highway to Durey Lane, the construction of the roundabout at the intersection of Sheriff and David Streets and the Railway Embankment and the widening and construction of drains on both sides of Sheriff Street and Mandela Avenue.

It was also spent on the placing of a median at the intersection of Mandela Avenue and Homestretch Avenue and finally, preparatory works for the overlaying of asphaltic concrete on Sheriff Street and Mandela Avenue.

Minister Edghill noted that currently, the project is in the paving stage with just the traffic signals and safety signs left to be erected.

Work on the Sherriff Street/Mandela Avenue Project commenced in August 2018, with the contract for the project being awarded to Sinohydro Corporation Limited in November 2017.

The ongoing project is presently being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to the tune of US$31 million.

The project was halted when the previous Coalition government threatened to rescind the contract from the Chinese contractor, but it was later restarted when the government changed in August 2020.

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