The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

In September, I published a review of the undertaking to build an airport at Argyle, in which I stated (among other things) that the ongoing construction has no known, credible completion schedule. Just prior to that, Vincentians had been advised by the government that the undertaking would be “substantially completed” by the end of this year (2014).   I called that schedule a fantasy.

Now, on Nov. 3 (as reported by I-Witness News) Dr Rudy Matthias, CEO of the International Airport Development Corporation has told us that they are still aiming at the year-end schedule. “We are still working towards substantial completion of the airport project by the end of this year” he said. But, he noted that there was an issue with the weather. “The rain that came in the months of July, August, and September, and October too, affected us somewhat, so that the rate of progress of the pavement work was not as good as we would have liked it to be,” Matthias said.

Which raises the question: how much rain really came during those months?

The chart below shows (the blue bars) the average monthly rainfall recorded during July to October for the years 2008 – 2014 (that is, the years since the construction started) and also shows the 10-year average of rainfall (the red line) for those months.

Short Stories Worth Telling, Episode 1

The records clearly show that the average monthly rainfall for the period in 2014 was less than the corresponding period 10-year average and was also less than in every other year except 2012. In fact, the 2014 rainfall has been 20 per cent less than the 10-year average. And note that the work on the pavements actually started in July of 2013, which had a rainier July to October than this year — as anyone who lives in St. Vincent should know.

These are the facts, based on which you can draw your own conclusions. Next, we’ll talk about “substantial completion”, a term we’ve been hearing frequently within recent months. What does it mean? And how does it relate to what’s happening at Argyle? That’s for another episode.

Herbert A (Haz) Samuel

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

9 replies on “Short Stories Worth Telling, Episode 1: How much rain actually fell during July to October this year?”

  1. Clement Percival says:

    Once again the facts as stated by Nr. Samuels are indisputable. Of course the effect of the rainfall is related to the stage of works then being undertaken.
    I am looking forward eagerly to the next episode, as I think that that question of substantial completion is very open to abuse. What we have seen about the airport is that the Government and its cohorts are using the “Alice in Wonderland” dictum. Remember the character in that story, ( I think it might be the Rabbit of the King,) who proclaimed that “words mean what I want them to mean”. ?
    I would also want Mr. Samuel to try to get the full and true story about the financing of the terminal building. I regret very much that there is no disclosure of information legislation, which could require the Government and the CARICOM DEVELOPMENT FUND ( CDF) to reveal the arms twisting and abusiveness that attended that matter.

    1. Pat Robinson Commissiong says:

      Nope, not Wonderland. It was Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass – when he explained what his statement, “There’s glory for you”, meant – “There’s a nice knock-down argument for you”. Brother Man, I’ve been reading and re-reading Alice since the year dot. I just love it. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less”. Yes, this lot really live in a Looking Glass World!

      1. Clement Percival says:

        Thanks for the correction. I recalled that it was one of those tales, but I clearly referred to the wrong one. However, I think that my point would be understood. What a time and a country we live in, when we can apply children’s tales and stories to it! Perhaps we can now place all of this in ” Never, Never Land.” Maybe the Prime Minister is indeed a take off of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up. That is why he can spin these self-delusionary stories. What is amazing is that he has supposedly learned and highly trained persons swallowing his delusions line, hook, and sinker. More red KoolAid, anyone?

  2. Mr Herbert,

    One of the main culprits in construction is water, whether it comes in for of rain, river, sea, hail, snow, hurricanes, troughs etc. Although in most cases, it can be predicted when rain is going to fall, on the other hand, we live in the Caribbean where the weather changes within seconds and rain can fall practically anytime.

    Now in this country, everyone seem to have an input on topics that are completely unrelated to their field rather than leaving it to the experts who might have spend 3 years minimum studying that field. I am a Specialist in the construction field so I am going to shed some light on you.

    It’s all good that more rain might have fell in previous years than this year but you cannot just take into consideration the amount of rain that fell but also the frequency and intensity with which the rain fell. The same amount of rain that can fall in one day may fall in three days and instead of loosing one day of work, I loose three days…..

    1. Herbert A Samuel says:

      Dear Alaine, thanks for your comment. I am aware of the general matter you raise regarding the relevance of frequency and intensity of rainfall, and you are correct in saying that these things matter in addition to total rainfall. However, please note the following:

      An examination of the daily rainfall data at Montreal (the closest rainfall station to the site for which complete data sets are available), shows that, for the period in question, there were more above-average rainfall days in 2013 than in 2014 (frequency in 2013 was higher), but the amounts of rain that fell on the highest rainfall days in 2014 were higher than in 2013 (ie: intensity in 2014 was higher). So, let’s assume that those two things might offset each other somewhat. That still leaves a larger point about project delays caused by weather, which needs some explanation.

      On a small construction project (say, a house, or a village road) a contractor will be able to get away with saying that rain caused him to lose a day, or three. On large projects, that’s not how it works.

      First of all, prior to bidding on a large project, a contractor is required to familiarize himself with site conditions, including climatic conditions. In preparing his bid (which includes the schedule for completion of the works), the contractor has to allow for the expected climatic conditions – ie: an estimated average, frequency and occasional intensity of rainfall, all of which he can calculate from existing data available from the Met Office and the CWSA.

      Then, the signed contract that governs the large project will include a clause that relates to delays caused by weather. Such a clause will typically state something to the effect that ‘the Contractor shall be entitled to an extension of time for completion if the works are affected by exceptionally adverse climatic conditions’. So the contractor cannot simply say: “plenty rain came and it held up the work”. An experienced contractor is expected to be able to organize his business accordingly, given the known climatic conditions of the site he is working on, and if he wants to make a claim for weather-induced delays, he must be able to demonstrate that the climatic conditions were exceptionally adverse.

      An exceptionally adverse weather event might be one that has a probability of occurrence that is at least four or five times the expected duration of the project (according to FIDIC, the Federation Internationale des Ingenieurs-Conseils, a universally-respected international contract standards organization for the construction industry). So, in this case, the contractor at Argyle would be granted an extension based on the occurrence of a weather event with a return period of 12 years or greater – such as Hurricane Tomas in 2010 or the Christmas Eve system last year.

      But there was no such weather event in July to October this year. Yes, a lot of rain fell on Sept 5th, for example, but it did not constitute an ‘exceptionally adverse’ weather event in construction contract terms.

      So herein lies the problem (and the reason for the longish explanation above). There is in fact no contractor and no governing contract for the delivery of the Argyle project. If there were a contractor and a binding contract, and if he had made a claim for delays caused by weather for the period under discussion, a competent project manager would have rejected that claim. But instead, what we have now is the purported project manager himself making that claim – a claim which a competent project manager would reject. It’s quite an absurd situation. But yes, if he were responsible for building a house (or a village road), the owners would definitely have cut him a few days slack.

  3. Patrick Ferrari says:

    Mr Samuel, thank you. Apart from your quote, in a short speech, reported here on November 8, Matthias used “substantial” or “substantially” ten times and “complete” or “completed” nine times. It is characteristic of a nervous tic. He was, at the time, talking to journalists (reason enough to be nervous) and I was wondering whom more he was trying to fool. Himself or the journalists. Or his boss, perhaps. Don’t forget, early this year, the Prime said that he was advised that the asphalting had started.

    Matthias also said only “extreme adverse weather conditions” can slow down “substantially
    Completed.” Which is in 43 days.

    As Mr Clement Percival said, “extreme adverse,” like “substantial” would mean what they want it to mean.

    Didn’t the Prime Minister say that Glen Beache was not in violation of a conflict of interest with his private insurance business and his public position?

    It, whatever, means what they want it to mean.

    OWN THE MEANINGS. OWN THE DEFINITIONS.

  4. Mr. Samuel, forget about “substantially completed.” I can tell you exactly when the airport will be “fully completed” (but not “fully operational”). The exact date will be several weeks before the next elections.

    As for when the airport will be “fully operational,” I also know the exact date. That date is … never.

  5. junior cumberbatch says:

    dose of u who have negative things to say will eat ur words.mr Samuel of all d years I kno u,never kno u can speak much less critizise.its such a shame.ur father was a good man.is ur bro has d same

  6. Let’s debate less on the weather , Mathias . Gonzales incumbent or opposition and what each has to say. At the end of the day the Argyle international airport belongs to the citizens of asVG no any political entity. We need to hope for the best. In another five years we might not be around but the AIA will be here and future generations operate it according to the styles fitting that era. So stop the bickering and let’s hope for the best. Remember the Arnos vale airport was opened around the ET Joshua era ( maybe around the 1950’s )
    Hope we can all use the facilities in the near future.

Comments are closed.