Melville Hall to Pond Casse Highway to be formally opened, finally

Blackmoore at a site visit in Pagua in 2011
Blackmoore at a site visit in Pagua in 2011

After missing several deadlines, the problem-plagued Melville Hall to Pond Casse Highway will be formally opened on October 30, according to prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, he said the opening represents “a giant step forward in the ongoing development of Dominica.”

“A ceremony for the official opening of that highway will be held on Thursday, 30th October,” Skerrit said.

The Melville Hall to Pond Casse Highway, or Phase II of the Canefield to Melville Hall Road Project, has a history of missed deadlines and hiccups.

The contract for the project was signed in May 2010 with Emile Gaddarkan et Fils valued at EC$52-million. The Government of the Republic of France through the Agence Francaise de Developpement provided the financial resources, according to press release from the government.

Phase II consisted of Sections I and II. Section II was from Pond Casse to Pegau Bay (24 km or 15 miles) and Section III was from Pagua Bay – Melville Hall (8 km or 5 miles).

At the contract signing in 2010, duration of the project was estimated to be 20 months.

During a site visit to the project on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 Minister for Public Works Rayburn Blackmoore told reporters that the project will be completed “by next year.”

But the project suffered many setbacks and by June 2012, Blackmoore disclosed that the government had taken steps to address severe delays affecting the troubled project.

He said the government had contracted the services of two new sub-contractors: Offshore Civil and Marine Inc and Dipcon Engineering Ltd to assist in completion works.

He indicated that these additional subcontractors will work alongside the original contractor, Emile Gaddarkan et Fils, on the project.

The completion date for the project was set for June 19, 2012.

But that deadline was not met and in October 2012, Blackmoore gave the new date of December 2012 and pointed out all was being done to meet that deadline.

He threatened penalties or ‘the issue of termination’ if the project was not completed as promised.

“We are looking towards the end of December to see the completion of this project,” he affirmed at a press conference on Thursday, October 11 2012.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit shakes hand with French Ambassador to the OECS Michel Prom in 2012 after receiving additional funds for the project
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit shakes hand with French Ambassador to the OECS Michel Prom in 2012 after receiving additional funds for the project

Also in June 2012, an additional $12.6-million was pumped in the project. On Friday June 22, 2012 an agreement was signed for a loan of that amount from the Agence Francaise de Developement (AFD).

The funds was said to be mainly for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the bridges along the road.

At the signing ceremony prime minister Skerrit said that he hoped the additional funding responds to some of the criticisms that have been directed at the road project.

To make matter worst, in May 2012 trucker employed on the project stopped work complaining that they were owed “hundreds of thousands” of dollars.

The matter created a firestorm of controversy over who should be paying the truckers and when.

In June 2012, Blackmoore released a statement saying the truckers ought to know that the Government is not the one paying the contractor for the works on the Project.

He explained that the contractor’s claims for the works executed are paid directly by the funding agency, AFD “and to date all of Emile Gaddarkhan et Fils claims have been settled by the AFD, so there is absolutely no legitimate reason why the Truckers should not have been paid”.

In November, 2012, the trucker threatened protest action again, saying they were not paid since August 2012. The truckers were eventually paid.

The numerous delays and hiccups on the project were of great concern to the public and in March 2014, Blackmoore defended the slow progress, pointing out that funding had to be sought for additional works.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Marigot Village Council he said that historically many sections of the road have been prone to land slippages and much of the work being done was not part of the original contractual arrangement.

“We said, as a government, that it makes no sense to do a job of that magnitude partially,” he stated. “Consequently we had to get additional funding…”

Blackmoore pointed out that a vulnerable area being worked on was next to the Belles School. “In the original contract not enough provision was made for a retaining wall and excavation,” he stated. “That is being done now …that is why you see the work taking a little bit longer.”

He pointed further that work was being done on 14 bridges which “was not part of the original scope of work.”

“That is why we are doing for you a proper job going forward…” he noted.

The final cost of the project is a reported $74-million.

At Thursday’s press conference Skerrit said that October 30th, the day the highyway is to be formally opened, should be a date all Dominicans enter into their dairies as a day of national importance.

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43 Comments

  1. Shameless
    October 12, 2014

    But how can we be “formally” opening something that is still incomplete? The road project is NOT complete so the bravado with formal opening is just a damn smoke screen in the grander election campaign. Why not just wait until the road is completed and then have a grand affair for such a LONG AWAITED project?

    In conclusion I will only say that there are “many” reasons why Gardakan never got fired from the project but instead was continuously rewarded with more work and additional funds whenever he demanded. Time will surely tell because this is Dominica and the parrot is our national emblem 8) .

    Hence another reason why Change Is A Must!

    Assertive, NOT Agressive!

  2. October 11, 2014

    Thank God for progress msy the good Lord continue to Bless D A and the DLP government

  3. October 11, 2014

    Those of you who have a positive mind set and to speak positive about what is happening in our beautiful country thank you. Our country is trully moving forward. I say thank you LORD I give you praise. Thank you PM and all those that had a part to play in this road may God bless you all .Five more years for THE DOMINICA LADOUR PARTY.

  4. October 11, 2014

    Hello and good morning my people. The government should put toll booths on the main roads and charge one dollar per vehicle and used that money to maintain the roads. We can’t just wait on other countries to give us grants or loans to build and maintain our roads.

  5. October 11, 2014

    Hello and good morning my people. Thanks for this road which should make out trip to and from the airport much better. Please drive carefully and to the guy with the Blue & Wite ford pick up truth in Bellles who run me off the road with my eighty year old mother in 2009. I hope you don’t used this new road as your race track and endanger our citizens.

  6. tell me more
    October 11, 2014

    all the time it was phase one and two now all of a sudden there is a third phase on the road project .so it looks like through the marigot was never an option in repairing . looking at the melville hall bridge which is right at the port of entry into d/ca that is not even done or no now there is a third phase marigot is always last on the list ,(please i am not being political this is just a reality )

    • Cerberus
      October 13, 2014

      The section from Hatton Garden to Melville Hall (4.5 km) was always a consideration in the financing from the French Govt. Development agency, ADF. You will find it in their report CDM 103NCO.

  7. Roach
    October 11, 2014

    Next project as soon as we get back in office is the recontruction of the Portsmouth to Marigot road; widening and straitening of roads and bridges in time for international airport… :-D :lol:

  8. Mahaut talk roro
    October 10, 2014

    Good or bad people will talk but the DLP will show them the right way to move dominica forward let’ us pray for our great leader skiroo … Freedom came noo road ..worker came noo road DLP will do it all

  9. IFF I WUZ
    October 10, 2014

    Parry, I would advise the Prime Minister to apologize to the people of Dominica for the problems which occurred during the building of the
    road from Pond Casse to Melville Hall. Parry should inform the Prime Minister that no Dominican travelling on that road would want to remember the financial disaster which occurred. The value of the road was $52 million in May 2010 and the final cost approximately four years later rose to $74 million. With allegations of corruption being thrown at the Government, the Prime Minister should inform the people as to who is responsible for the overage of $22 million.

  10. October 10, 2014

    the history of this road reminds me of the story of gulliver in liliput iseems to me that the plan was very myopic. any way i’m glad that the ordeal is over.

  11. Observer
    October 10, 2014

    Much needed road. Good thing. But no epoxy coating on those reinforcements in that harsh environment? Maybe a protective coat should placed on the new concrete to minimize saltwater intrusion – may add to the already high cost, but stitch in time saves nine.

  12. UDOHREADYET
    October 10, 2014

    I’ve traveled that road to Melville Hall while it was under construction… a very significant part of the road phase 11 was washed away by rain, flooding and landslides. It is understandable why it went over budget because while it was being constructed the weather made the existing road worst to repair/rehabilitate. I always wondered why it took so long to build … I’m sure there were financial and human resource issues but its 25 miles of road in a tropical island, probably one of the largest projects undertaken by the Dominica government. Glad to see that its finally completed. I’m sure some UWP people will say its a fake road that will wash away after elections and Lennox will build the real one eventually but that is of course not the case. DA is progressing.

  13. October 10, 2014

    Mr.pm remember the farm roads too.Do that and iw really vote for you.Still waiting.

  14. Anonymous
    October 10, 2014

    October 30th right at the corner, I will believe when it happens.

  15. MyMyMy
    October 10, 2014

    I am very happy that this road is finally completed – it is a necessity and a responsibility of whichever government is in power.

    Having said that I think the management of this road demonstrates the capabilities of our managing heads of states – the various hiccups etc shows a lack of foresight and the manner in which the government handled the issues of delays is appalling – anywhere else in the world Emile Gardhakan would have lost several contracts and would have been sued for not delivering his part of the contracts – irrespective of whatever bridges or retaining walls he/them did not account for in the original plan.

  16. MyMyMy
    October 10, 2014

    “We said, as a government, that it makes no sense to do a job of that magnitude partially,” he stated. “Consequently we had to get additional funding…”

    Am I to understand that the government’s initial approach (which made no sense according to the minister) was to create a main road only partially? a quick Fix? Knowing that it made no sense, why did they proceed with it anyway? In which case it is safe to conclude that because of the government’s initial partial approach, the original design was flawed deliberately, in that it did not include the extensive works that was necessary.

    My question now is how much did this impartiality approach cost the state? What did it cost the government to keep seeking funds, putting plans in place etc

    #HappyItsDoneThough

  17. Anonymous
    October 10, 2014

    October 30th right at the corner but I will believe when it happens, I like the road it’s a good

  18. October 10, 2014

    If he had not spoken I would consider it Pantomime.

  19. October 10, 2014

    At Thursday’s press conference Skerrit said that October 30th, the day the highyway is to be formally opened, should be a date all Dominicans enter into their dairies as a day of national importance.
    Is that the day Elections will be announced?

    • Anonymous
      October 10, 2014

      Just be calm and vote labor.

      Don’t you wish election was every year? Just see the amount of projects labor undertaking all over Dominica and getting completed.

      Look out for the next major project the bridge from

  20. Anonymous
    October 10, 2014

    You mean even the Minister not wearing a helmet?

  21. ??????
    October 10, 2014

    What was the final cost of that road project??

    • Cerberus
      October 11, 2014

      I reckon it will not be far short of E.C.100 million.

      – The French Govt. financing agency AFD provided loans in two tranches – an initial Euro 15.8 million followed by a supplementary Euro10 million. In today’s money that would be just short of E.C.88 million in total. ( I suspect the $12.6 million mentioned in the DNO report would be U.S. Dollars, converted from the contracted second AFD loan of Euro 10 million).
      See ADF report of 12 July, 2012 http://www.adf.fr under heading “rehabilitating the Capital’s Airport road…”
      – the length of this road is 24 km. (14.88 miles) from Pont Casse to Hatton Garden and 4.5 km (2.79 miles) from Hatton Garden to Melville Hall. At E.C.100 million that equates to a cost of E,C,$.5.66 per mile.
      (the lenghts of the road sections come from AFD report CDM1013NCO Eng., in respect of the request for additional funding, a translation of the original French, available on line )
      – This is not a new road but a refurbishment project that originally was scheduled to be completed in 20 months from signing of the contract i.e by March 2012. We are 3.5 years behind schedule!.

      It must be assumed that the main contractor Gaddarkhan would have the necessary experience and skills to make a fair assessment of what this project entailed, especially given that they completed the upgrade of the section form Canefield to Pont Casse prior to signing a contract for these works, a continuation of the same road.

      Something went drastically wrong and I would suggest a public enquiry is in order if only to forestall a repeat in future.

  22. Mamizoo
    October 10, 2014

    They say it is tough being a politician because once you get there half your reputation is ruined by lies the other half is ruined by the truth!

    But I always say before politicians really get to use their brain we should treat them like Diapers- we put them on and change them as soon as the first storm if we wait too long is rash, scratch scratch, yeast infection, urinary infection and very importantly yen yen or what we use to call A$$$ Flies. DNO doh want me to say B**m B***m Flies. We all know that once Roosevelt diaper got the first storm we saw people like Tony, the Rev father lawyer, the Barbadian, Krazy, the Ayatola and more.

    As for me Lang Mama I prefer fruit fly and I like changing diapers very early. But what interest me also is the fact that those over dirty diapers we have operating have yet to respond on the matter of changing the head diaper every two terms( no leader for more than two terms). They turn and twist every thing else but shy away from that one issue- well they also run from debate too

    So I can only conclude that guys like Ian, petta st Jean, Dr Darroux, Kelvar, Dr Mac, Gloria, Justina none of them want to be chief diaper.

  23. Not My Vote u gettin
    October 10, 2014

    Thanks Skerrit but you still not getting my vote. I need a job so I could buy a car. You taking work from us and think you can fool us with road. When I hungry your highway means nothing to me especially when I don’t have a bicycle. What 80% of us need is work so we could plan our future just as your son’s bed is already made. Thanks for the road but for sure you NOT getting our vote. LINTON AND TEAM DOMINICA ALL THE WAY BUSS from Marigot to Laplain and all those that will be using your highway!!!

    • Anonymous
      October 10, 2014

      Please be reminded that on election day place a tick by the UWP Candidate name you will be voting for. That way the presiding officer will know for sure you made a wise choice. :lol:

    • Anonymous
      October 10, 2014

      That’s alright he has mine and my whole family.

      • Anonymous
        October 13, 2014

        OK, one man and his dog is still only one vote.

  24. October 10, 2014

    All projects are being completed now,good ting.

  25. .
    October 10, 2014

    Better late than never. Good things come to those who wait. Thank you DLP for taking on and completing such a difficult project.

    • Anonymous
      October 10, 2014

      the road is not complete. There are still big holes in the road and the bridges are still under construction

    • Titiwi
      October 11, 2014

      $35 million dollars over budget and only 41 months late. Yes DLP, congratulations for that.

  26. Lapo Layza
    October 10, 2014

    It took a long time to complete this road project. All kinds of self appointed engineers as well as ordinary people were quick to give their views. Many of us never took the time to do any research on the origin and construction of that road. The original road was not constructed to accommodate todays volume of traffic nor were there such heavy duty trucks in D/ca when this road was first designed. I make no apologies for all those delays but I prefer it to be properly done than to rush it and one year later it becomes of no use. Constructive criticism is good but we must do our research before we jump on the band wagon and criticize the things we have very little or no knowledge of. I am not a DLP supporter but if we are building something let’s take our time and do it right the first time.

    • Yambabawoolais
      October 10, 2014

      It seem like your research made you a much better idiot than before. As said remain silent no one will know that you are a fool.in other word Pais Gel ous
      The traffic volume and load capacity is factored only in the design of the project. These elements have nothing to do with the mismanagement and corruption therein. In fact the roadway still remain a two lane roadway capable of handling the same traffic volume and the load capacity is still the same as before. Only miserable apologists will create the impression that the roadway can now handle 24 wheelers or 60 foot containers.
      The truth the highest volume of traffic that this route has had is during the banana boom and that was in the 80’s to mid 90’s. It means therefore that the previous road surface have already seen the highest volume and most likely the highest traffic loads.
      You are a DLP supporter who feel compelled to make excuses.
      I sincerely hope that you go read some books and open up your mind so that you can have an intelligent conversation and an independent mind.

    • Yambabawoolais
      October 10, 2014

      I forgot to add the road reconstruction only added more driving comfort.
      Add that to your foot notes and study for your exam

    • Anthony Ismael
      October 10, 2014

      The article itself is telling on how the project was initially approached by government engineers coupled with a high degree of either ineptitude or deliberate misinformation on their part.
      Many parts of the road only accommodated one lane of traffic. Additionally, we already knew that there were multiple single lane bridges throughout the said road network. That’s nothing new.
      Instead of grandstanding, the Ministry of Communication and Works should have informed the public about the scope of the rehabilitation, based on the initial budget. In so doing, we would have been far more patient and understanding and less critical as well.
      However, that was not the case. They set high expectations and unrealistic completion dates, knowing full well that they lacked sufficient funding to complete the project in its entirety.
      Never promise what you can’t deliver. It’s better to under promise and over deliver.

    • October 11, 2014

      To Lapo Layza.

      Hello and good morning my people. I agree with you. Now when I come home I should have a safe drive from the airport regardless of weather condition.

  27. Peter J
    October 10, 2014

    But it ain’t finish yet. The section from the Pagua sea wall to Melville Hall that’s the way it stays? Please open the State Palace, what happen why not open the Charlo’s Palace?

  28. Mamizoo
    October 10, 2014

    DNO congratulations on this article. you put the facts out there even though some people are going to be mad but the truth is what matters. There were many other articles that I felt that DNO needed to provide a sort of a historical background particularly on follow up articles.
    This time you deed a very good job detailing the history of the project. Kudos

    Now let those who would like to create smoke screen really work harder at distorting the truth.

  29. Citizen
    October 10, 2014

    The new road does not reach Melville Hall. :?:

  30. October 10, 2014

    It is with great pleasure and anticipation I wait the completion of the Melville Hall Airport Road. For those of us who frequently visit our nature isle, we are very happy with this accomplishment. Thanks, it won’t take 2 hours to the airport. Thanks to all those who were involved. Kudos!

    • October 12, 2014

      are you thanking blackmoore and company for their incompetence? that is why when they kick us in the behind they expect us to smile and laugh.

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