A technical flaw in the alignment of the recently constructed John's Hall bridge in St James that could lead to vehicles using it hitting a house triggered anger at Wednesday's sitting of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC).
Government MP and PAAC member Mikhael Phillips was fuming as he said he could not understand how no one noticed the flaw in the bridge until it had reached such an advanced stage of completion.
The faulty bridge was raised as one of 19 projects still to be completed under the controversial Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) but which the National Works Agency (NWA) said was "substantially complete".
However, the NWA was unable to give a deadline for the programme's completion.
The PAAC raised concern about the agency's inability to complete the programme, and has asked for additional information to assess the progress of both the physical work and the timeliness of payments to the contractors.
Chief executive officer of the NWA, EG Hunter, told the PAAC meeting at Gordon House that, based on normal engineering assessment, a programme which is 95 per cent completed can be considered "substantially complete".
However, Hunter's deputy, Earl Patterson, admitted that there were still 19 outstanding projects, including the John's Hall bridge in St James, and the Hounslow road project, which have still not commenced.
PAAC Chairman Edmund Bartlett, in whose constituency the John's Hall bridge is located, said that he was awaiting a technical report commissioned by the NWA on the alignment of the bridge, before commenting.
"That certainly could not be considered 70 or 90 per cent complete because, in my mind, it is not fit for use at all, and may not be unless it is significantly realigned," Bartlett told the meeting.
Hunter pleaded that he and a team from the NWA had visited the project last Friday and made certain observations, on the basis of which a technical evaluation was being made. He urged the committee to await the report of the technical evaluation.
"It is not an issue that can be swept under the carpet. The structure is manifest... and I give you an undertaking that, once we have concluded what we conclude, then it will be made public," he told the committee.
Hunter also admitted that working out a system of collaboration with the NWC, which has to lay pipes, has held up the start of work on the Hounslow Road project. However, he was confident that the major programme would be closed soon.
"We are pretty confident that most of the heavy lifting under JDIP/JEEP is out of the way. It is the tidying up elements which remain," Hunter assured the committee.
The completion date for JDIP, which should have been by the end of 2012, was extended to the end of 2012/13. However, the programme has continued into 2013/14, with over US$50 million of the initial US$400 million loan still intact.
Hunter said earlier this year that he was "very disappointed" that it was not completed, at least by last April, but blamed the delay on "a number of factors", including Hurricane Sandy, the late-season tropical cyclone that ravaged eastern and north-eastern parishes on October 24, 2012.