Monday, February 19, 2018

Who to blame?

400,000 without water


ON SITE: WASA’s senior manager, operations (North) Derek Hooker points to the ruptured 48-inch steel Caroni North Trunk Main, as head corporate communications, Ellen Lewis, and director operations, Steve Joseph look on at the jobsite along the Churchill Roosevelt Highway yesterday.

Mark Fraser

Who was wrong in the rupturing of the 48-inch water main servicing North Trinidad which left 400,000 people without water?

The contractor on the job — Junior Sammy — is blaming the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), saying the State enterprise failed to place markers on the site while WASA has said markers were present and the contractor breached its limit. Sammy was contracted by the Works Ministry to reconstruct and widen the Arouca River Bridge along the Churchill Roosevelt Highway located in the immediate vicinity of Trincity Mall.

The project started in October 2013 and is projected to be completed by August 2014.

Speaking to the Express by phone yesterday, Sammy said his project manager indicated that WASA failed to properly mark off the area.

Sammy’s project manager Martin Solis told the Express at the National Gas Company (NGC) put tickers in place but there was no clear markers from WASA. He said it was “totally false” for WASA to indicate it had placed markers.

“Our project is on a straight line, the line running (WASA main) is running in a curve, even if they would have marked it, they would have marked it in a straight line and it would have been hidden anyway,” said Solis.

“We were working with what we had in our limit, our boundary lines and there is no way they can come and say we were working outside of the boundaries,” he added. However, this was exactly what Environment Minister Ganga Singh said at yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair.

“It was outside the scope of works in the sense that they ought not to have been moving beyond the line marked out and clearly they are in breach and the Ministry of Works will have to take whatever action in accordance to the contract that they have made with the contractor,” said Singh.

Singh said Sherene Alexander, project engineer from the Works Ministry, informed him she was notified on February 5 at around 2 p.m. by personnel from the contractor that during the course of its work, the 48-inch WASA main was ruptured.

WASA, he said, was notified half hour later.

Singh said according to Alexander, “a specific zone was identified for the contractor to operate within but this area was breached. She disclosed that WASA’s pipeline markers were visible to all”.

He said emergency repair crews have been on the site and it was expected that the main would be fixed by midnight yesterday.

The cost, he said, would be calculated by today.

Contacted by the Express on Junior Sammy’s denial that the zone of the area of work was not breached and WASA did not have clear markers, Singh said the information he delivered was provided to him by the Works Ministry. Water is expected to be restored to all affected by tomorrow.