KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Works Minister Sen. Julian Francis is not pleased with the quality of repairs being done on the nation’s roads.
“I will say they have to lift their bar. And those who can’t lift their bar … can’t get involved in road repairs,” Francis said at a press briefing yesterday.
He added that a tradesman is not automatically an asphalt repairman.
“And if you get into asphalt repairing as a form of business, you have to have experienced people within that crew [that have] some years of training and experience in repairing asphalt roads,” he explained.
“I am really unhappy with the quality I’m seeing on the road with the maintenance work,” said Francis, who also spoke about the quality of the asphalt mix.
He, however, noted that rain contributes to the situation but said that some repair personnel apply the hot mix to wet base material.
“And I think we really need to do a little bit closer examination of how we get these patches in place,” he said.
Francis said the government is “getting value for our money” with the hot mix and that he had asked the Building, Roads, and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) to investigate the mix design.
“… I have seen some hot mix going down on the road that I am not quite happy with despite the fact that prices on hot mix have just gone up [to $525 a tonne].”
Francis appealed to the two companies producing the hot mix — Argyle Construction Co. and Franco Construction Co. — saying he believed “they can gives us a better mix”.
“I have insisted that BRAGSA put a little more supervision and approval of the mix that they are getting from the hot mix suppliers,” he added.
He also responded to the “substantial criticism” about potholes being dug and left for days before being filled.
This, he said, was because the hot mix material is produced in bulk and has to be applied while hot.
“So, the purpose of digging out the holes is to prepare in advance what the suppliers can give you the next day or two days after.
“And sometime when you dig these holes out and the hot mix supplier starts mixing, rain comes down and runs for about 18 – 24 hours, and they say they abandon mixing.
“It means that these holes will stay open for another day or two before we get a dry day and the hot mix suppliers can give us the hot mix to patch these holes,” Francis said.
The Works Minister further said that BRAGSA would consider having a “critical cleaning crew” for each of the nation’s major road networks – the Leeward, Windward, and Vigie Highways.
This crew will supplement the major rad cleaning done thrice annually, he said.
Francis also spoke about the construction of private driveways connecting to highways, saying that construction material is often left under these culverts and block drains.
He said the time has come for these connections to be made of steel grills rather than concrete.