Former Minister of Housing Sen. Julian Francis says he will take agrarian Clive “Bish-I” Bishop’s advice about where to plant crops, but not where to build houses.
Bishop, citing soil assessment reports from 1958 and 2006, has said that special engineering was needed at the site in Clare Valley, where a house built under the government’s housing initiative collapsed on Sept. 19.
“I have great respect for Bish-I, great respect for Bish-I, but soil knowledge and engineering — once the engineer has the information of soil, and soil structure, then he can design to suit the soil,” Francis said at a town hall meeting of homeowners last Saturday, which Bishop also attended.
To illustrate, Francis, who is now Minister of State in the Ministry of Works, said that when the government was building low-income houses in Green Hill, an excavator sank there.
He, however, said that Brian George designed two houses over that very spot.
“And I can take you there today, almost 11 years later and those two houses are still there; people have not one single problem,” Francis said.
“In fact, when Brian designed the foundation, water was coming out of drains in the foundation. But that is what engineers are for. Some of us have different professions in life. I have a little bit of everything. I am not a professional on anything.
“Bishi-I is an expert on soils, but when it comes to construction, with due respect, I will take the word of [Chief Engineer] Brent Bailey, Brian George, [deceased former head of the Housing and Land Development Corporation] Morris Slater over Bish-I.
“I am being frank — when it comes to engineering. If I want to know the soil structure and so on, what crops I can grow and so on, I will speak to Bish-I,” Francis said.