Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says he is disappointed with the slow pace of work on the EC$3.1 million concrete road his government is building from Pembroke to the Sandals Beaches Resort in Buccament Bay.
Gonsalves said on radio on Wednesday that the road is two months behind schedule — 29 days before the resort is scheduled to open for the hosting of a hemispheric summit.
“There is just one area of disappointment I have about what’s taking place. You know the road which we have the responsibility to build, surface it, concrete it, from up the main, they should really have finished that since November and they are pushing it really too far down the line,” the prime minister said on his weekly appearance on the state-owned NBC Radio.
“And the consequences of that would be you wouldn’t have the extent to do the landscaping along the way, which would have been something very beautiful,” he said.
The resort is slated to open on March 1 for the hosting of the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) then officially on March 27.
“You are still going to have a grand entrance but it could have been better from that standpoint,” the prime minister said, referring to what summit delegates would experience on the road to the CELAC summit.
He said he was going to talk later on Wednesday to Minister of Transport of Works, Deputy Prime Minister Montgomery Daniel, who had just returned from an official trip overseas.
“There is still going to be a good entrance but I would have wished it to have been done earlier. And I have been given some reason why but I am not satisfied that all those reasons are cogent,” Gonsalves said.
“I don’t want to say anything about the contractor or anything like that. I am just talking generally about my disappointment in that regard, that specific regard. And I am hoping by talking about it that I will have persons ginger up themselves a little bit,” he said, even as he noted that Sandals is investing over US$200 million on the resort.
On Wednesday, people familiar with the construction of the road told iWitness News that work is hindered by the heavy flow of traffic to and from the resort.
Large stretches of the concrete road have been paved but iWitness News was told that a section adjoining the main road remains unpaved as workers wait for water mains to be laid in the area.
Tradesmen were working late on Wednesday evening on an abutment for a bridge close to Duncan’s Furniture, in an area where a gutter turns into a raging stream after heavy or extended downpours.
During the debate on the Estimates om Dec. 19, 2023, Nigel “Nature” Stephenson, MP For South Leeward, where the resort is located said he did not object to the construction of the road.
The opposition lawmaker, however, noted that base material for the road to the resort were being mined at a quarry in the nearby community of Twenty Hill where sections of the road remain unpaved.
“So going to the quarry to access materials to build a road in excess of $3 million, you are destroying a road that literally doesn’t exist,” Stephenson said, referring to the impact of heavy trucking on the unpaved road in Twenty Hill.
“It is a dirt road, people’s properties are being damaged, the road network in Penniston is damaged because of the heavy trucks carrying all these materials. So, while we are trying to build a road, we are destroying existing roads and absolutely nothing is being done to repair those roads,” he said.
The government has since repaired a portion of road in Dubois which had collapsed as a result of the trucks passing in the area on their way to the resort.