Letters to the Editor

Masterbuilders needs to learn from the building masters

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

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Dear Editor,

Frankly speaking, the masterbuilders association and the Opposition who are backing them in their rant against the Chinese builders need to stop talking until they can show themselves capable of working efficiently and building roads and bridges like the quality seen from Bouygues (France-based) and China Harbour Engineering Company (China-based). They really have absolutely no voice.

We the taxpayers of the limping economy called Jamaica are tired of paying those 'contractors' for roadwork and building bridges which last only until the next shower of rain. Who remembers when the bridge at Harbour View was about to be commissioned and the little, old man was saying to the then People's National Party president and the country's prime minister that it would not work because it was too low and the river will destroy it? He was hastily dismissed. And just as the old man predicted, based on his years of knowledge of the river's habit, the next time it rained heavily the river dismantled the bridge that cost millions of dollars, which our so-called builders and engineers built.

When our roads are fixed by our so-called Jamaican engineers and they do not last six months, do they refund the cost of replacing them? Or are they given a next contract to pilfer more from the beleaguered coffers of the Ministry of Finance or Ministry of Works?

If I were the minister of works I would put in a rider to all contracts given to these engineers and companies that if the roads they build fail before five years they will have to fix it immediately to the original standard, and if it fails again before five years a percentage of their contracted cost would have to be returned for another company to get the job to perform repairs since they cannot get it right.

Before casting blame or seeking to destroy the image of the international builders, these naysayers need to check themselves and leave the Chinese alone. They need to go and learn how to build roads before they verbally attack the Chinese. Take a look at the French company Bouygues that redesigned the Bog Walk Gorge/River Road after it was devastated during a storm in 2008, and up to today, nearly 10 years later, it is still at least 95 per cent intact. By the way, that road repair was done for free and completed within about six to seven months. That road (Bog Walk Gorge) used to be repaired at least twice per year by our so-called Jamaican engineers.

Where was the masterbuilders association when the roads were disintegrating after three months of being laid? Did they ever once cite those engineers for poor work or fine them? Well, I do not know, but if they have why is it not made public knowledge? Each time they fix roads they last about four months. It's maybe that they do not know what they are doing, they do not care, or they know and deliberately do it in order to get more contracts to repair their originally shoddy work. Well, whatever the reason, I am not amused, and I am happy the French came and now the Chinese.

Take a look at the north-south link of Highway 2000. Which Jamaican engineering or construction company could do that scope of work to that quality? Until they can, in my view, they should keep silent.

Joseph Edwards





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