KINGSTOWN St. Vincent – The section of road in North Leeward that resulted in the suspension of the delivery of fuel to Chateaubelair by SOL was resurfaced yesterday.
Steve Francis, manager of SOL, told I-Witness News last week that fuel supply to the service station in Chateaubelair was discontinued because of the “deteriorating condition” of the Charles Village road in Spring Village.
While the Bridges, Roads and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) has said that it was safe for the company’s tankers to continue using the road, a SOL engineer determined that the risk was too great and the company suspended fuel delivery to Chateaubelair.
Francis said that his company considers the condition of the road to be “moderately severe”, two levels below “catastrophic” – the highest level on the company’s safety ranking.
Report reaching I-Witness News say that BRAGSA resurfaced the road yesterday.
But Member of Parliament for North Leeward, opposition lawmaker Roland Matthews, who brought the situation to the attention of the nation and Parliament, said on radio last night that he still had some concerns about the road.
“My concern is simply this, there is a [retaining] wall on one side that is upholding the road from falling into the Cumberland River. I want to know how safe is that wall,” Matthews said.
His concern was in light of SOL’s engineer’s assessment that the road was unsafe although BRAGSA had said that the road had cracked because the material used to backfill it had settled.
“If that was the concern, why was it labelled Level 4, as ‘moderately severe’ [by SOL]? Because there are other roads in this country that I believe, at face value, are worse than that road. So my concern: what did the engineer from SOL see in that road and BRAGSA didn’t see?” Matthews said, noting that he was not an engineer.
“I am just throwing it out there because I don’t know what is happening. I want to know if there are different standards. Because here SOL is saying that it must be rehabilitated before using and BRAGSA is giving the green light. If BRAGSA was so positive that the road could be used, why did they go and pave it today (yesterday)? It is interesting all over and something is not right there,” Matthews said.
He said that all concerned need to be satisfied that this road is safe for motorists and pedestrians.
“If what BRAGSA has done today is enough to make the road’s integrity stand up, well I am glad for that and I am glad that they acted swiftly,” he said.
“If, on the other hand, it is just a plaster to cover up a sore foot … we have to be very concerned as well,” he, however, added.
“And I am hoping that this matter could be resolved in a manner that all who are affected at this moment that some form of comfort can come to them.”
Mathews said that the unavailability of fuel in the North Leeward constituency, the largest, geographically, in the country, has affected fisherfolks and other persons who use petrol there.
I-Witness News is awaiting a response to questions sent to SOL late last night.
Meanwhile, Christiana Thompson, the operator of the service station in Chateaubelair, is suing SOL for, among other things, “damages for [SOL’s] decision to cut off the supply of fuel to [her service station] thus killing off her business”.
Thompson is also claiming “compensation for the 5,736 gallons of gasoline which [SOL] never delivered” and “damages for [SOL’s] continued pattern [of] refusal to correct what it knew was an inaccurate system of measurement,” according to the claim document.