Social Development and Communication Specialist with the Disaster Vulnerability and Reduction Project (DVRP), Eon Mars, has dispelled rumours that the Sendall Tunnel Rock Fall project has been stalled due to a lack of counterpart financing from government.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper last week Tuesday, Mars rejected those reports as “stupidness” and pointed out that the project is based on funding in the form of “a US$35 million loan and grant.”
“All monies for projects (under the DVRP)…those monies are already there. The money is not in government coffers. All of these projects, Lance Bridge (and) Hubble Bridge, there is a new school that is supposed to be done in Munich and there is one that started in St. Patrick on January 5…all these monies are there (for the projects under) the Disaster Vulnerability and Reduction Project”, he said.
The EC$2.9 million Sendall Tunnel Rock Fall project, which Mars said is being funded mainly by the World Bank and the Government of Grenada, commenced on August 17, 2015.
The tunnel was closed off to vehicular traffic but it was reopened before completion just before the busy Christmas season.
Workers have been able to complete construction of an approximately 60-70 feet long retaining wall, along the western boundary of the Presbyterian Church.
According to Mars the retaining wall was erected to assist with stabilising the foundation of the church which was significantly affected by a massive landslide during the passage of Hurricane Ivan in September 2014.
Mars said the decision was taken to reopen the tunnel to the regular flow of traffic, as the contractors are awaiting a shipment of material to complete Phase 2 of the project.
This phase of the project, he said comprises covering the rock face directly in front the Bruce Street Mall end of the tunnel with drapery mesh, which would stabilise it and eliminate the chances of rock spilling over during or after the course of heavy rainfall.
“The shipment would have taken more than four weeks to get here, so we thought it wise to free up the traffic”, he said.
The former Acting Manager of the state-run Gravel, Concrete & Emulsion Production Corporation confirmed that “the material has arrived,” on island, but there has been another setback as it relates to the equipment used to construct the rock face covering.
THE NEW TODAY was told that Jungsu Geology Engineering Co. Ltd, the contracting firm for the Sendall Tunnel Rock Fall project, has sub-contracted the second phase of the project to a US- based company that specialises in doing rock face coverings.
Mars stated that the US-based company, which he identified as “Ameritec” is in the process of shipping a container with the equipment needed “to install the drapery mesh and that work is expected to recommence in the area in early February.”
“…The drapery mesh would prevent the debris from falling and prevent shrubs above a certain size from growing there”, he remarked.
The Sendall Tunnel Rock Fall project is geared at ensuring the safety of the public with work projected to end in April.
When asked if the traffic would be diverted again once work recommences in February, Mars said that decision lies in the hands of the Traffic Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) and would be made in the appropriate time.
Mars also used the opportunity to express thanks to the public for “bearing with us” during Phase One when they were faced with some inconveniences.
“We know development sometimes come with a cost and I believe the public has taken this into consideration and has been very cooperative”, he said.