THE availability of red sand at a reasonable price and adequate volume continues to be a challenge for individuals and the construction industry, contractors have said.
They have come up with a possible solution- allow the private sector to mine former Caroni (1975) Ltd lands where there is an abundant supply of red sand.
Red sand is one of the basic inputs to any construction project, it is used as an input material for block laying, rending of walls and floors, it is also used as an input material in the manufacture of clay blocks, bedding and backfilling of water and sewer pipe trenches, filling of lands to support further development eg, roads and housing sites, the Trinidad and Tobago Contractors Association said in a statement yesterday.
“Red sand is an extremely essential input construction material and the current limited supply has increased the purchase price per cubic yard from a 2015/2016 ex-pit (material mined and loaded on to truck excluding transport from pit to end user) rate per cubic yard of $25-$35 to a current ex-pit rate of $50- $60 per cubic yard.
“At this time the country’s red sand needs are partially fulfilled by at least three private landowners/operators who either have limited capacity or are burdened by high transportation cost due to the remote locations of their pits, creating direct inflationary pressure on all aspects of construction,” the TTCA said.
Large deposits on Caroni land
The TTCA said red sand and its equivalent can be found in natural deposits within central regions of Trinidad (Esperanza/Windsor Park/Claxton Bay/Caparo) and smaller isolated deposits in southwest (Siparia/Cap de Ville) and northeast of Trinidad (Matura).
“The largest deposits of red sand reside on what was formerly known as Caroni (1975) Ltd lands and the smaller deposits on private lands,” the contractors stated.
Prior to the closure of Caroni (1975) Ltd these sand pits were operated via a lease arrangement with private sector operators who would have determined and set their individual retail prices. With the closure of Caroni (1975) Ltd the management of these sand bearing lands were delegated to the Estate Management and Business Development Company (EMBD) who initially adopted a similar leasing model with private sector operators, the statement said, adding that the lease arrangements however were “subsequently determined and are purportedly under review by the State. “Since then, for the past two years or so, no mining of these lands has been undertaken creating a severe void in the supply of red sand to the industry and consequently significant increases in prices as referred to above.”
The TTCA said given the consistent demand for red sand and the close proximity of these large parcels/acreages of idle ex-Caroni lands to the major highway within Central Trinidad, the State should reinstate the mining of these lands through workable and transparent processes.
“The involvement of private sector participation would create employment and secure a fair return for their operational services and the construction industry red sand consumers could be assured of a controlled/pre-set ex-pit retail price together with consistent quality and availability to meet market demands,” the TTCA said. “The suggested approach is a low hanging fruit for the State to earn immediate revenue while satisfying the demand for quality red sand at a controlled retailed price should be an immediate and realisable objective.”
It added: “The letting of these lands by the State should necessarily be guided by the doctrines enshrined in the soon to be proclaimed Procurement Regulator and supported by the learnings from the Trinidad and Tobago Extractive Transparency initiative.”