~ Theo re-iterates sanctions for sloppy work ~
SAUNDERS--A section of the recently re-opened L.B. Scott Road collapsed on Tuesday, raising questions about the quality of work executed as part of the Ebenezer drainage project.
It also has prompted Minister of Infrastructure Theo Heyliger to reiterate his stance that contractors and site supervision firms should face sanctions for sloppy work. In this case, the contractor would be Windward Roads N.V. and the site supervision firm is Lievense N.V.
Adding to Heyliger's statement, Department of New Works and Projects head Kurt Ruan said he was embarrassed by what had happened. Ruan said that although the situation had been rushed and he understood the pressures, government still expected quality work. "We still stand for quality. Either deliver a quality project or don't do it at all," Ruan said.
He recalled that the other main contractor, MNO Vervat had had to redo a section of this same road twice last year after sloppy work was discovered. "These things keep re-occurring with these contractors and this is why the Minister has called for them to be held accountable in the future," Ruan said.
Windward Roads Director Jan Hendrik Boekaar, currently off-island, said the situation was being addressed by the company, but offered no explanation of how or why the road had collapsed.
However, sources close to the situation explained that it boiled down to sloppy work and, more specifically, a nearby trench that had not been backfilled after it was dug. It was explained that the nearby trench (see photo) had been dug to facilitate the laying of piping connecting nearby properties to the main sewage line, which runs under the road.
The work crew apparently did not backfill the trench after the pipe was laid and connected to the main sewage line, leaving it void of proper compacting and creating a vacuum. With no compacting, the sand in the foundation of the road moved towards the lowest point of the trench, which weakened the base-course and asphalt and eventually caused the collapse of the road.
"It's just plain sloppy work and it happens when you have several projects ongoing and contractors rushing to get them finished. It wasn't done with malicious intent or wilfully, but when you rush, these things tend to happen," the source said.
When asked to confirm or deny the explanation of what happened, Ruan concurred.
Minister of Infrastructure Theo Heyliger said in a brief statement that the issue was a prime example of why he had requested that the Ministry of VROMI consider implementing a type of "report card" for the two main contractors that execute roadwork in St. Maarten: Windward Roads and MNO Vervat.
He said with only these two firms receiving the road repair, resurfacing and construction contracts, they must be held accountable if government was not satisfied with their work. He explained that the report card should be a part of the bidding process for any new road project.
If government is not satisfied with the previous roadwork executed by a contractor, then the contractor should not receive the new contract, according to Heyliger. He said, "We can't spend NAf. 5 million on a road" only to have potholes six months later, and expressed the need for guarantees of five to 10 years for major road projects.
In the meantime, the edge of the bricked sidewalk at the Dutch Quarter roundabout has also sunk away, apparently due to erosion from rainwater. A number of bricks disappeared into a hole after sand at the foundation of the sidewalk gave way. The contractor for this project was also Windward Roads and the site supervision firm was also Lievense.