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Are Concrete Streets Up To Optimal Standard?

Posted By: Marty

Are Concrete Streets Up To Optimal Standard? - 02/22/13 02:21 PM

As the Darrell Bradley led city council finishes up its first year in office - there's just no arguing with the record his council has put up. Yes, you can justifiably complain about the widespread inconvenience, the lack of signage and intermittent traffic chaos - but you can't argue with numbers: They cement paved 50 streets! And are working on 10 more right now! It's an unmatched record of accomplishment, but that old saying is true: sometimes haste makes waste. And looking at the slightly shady condition of one of the first streets to be paved, we asked the mayor: is the city getting value for money?:

Jules Vasquez
"I see at the corner of Orange Street, I see the wear which would be called a friction point I supposed at the corner of Orange Street where it meets Albert Street, I see that there is a degradation in the concrete - you can see its starting to break away. Is that something that you are looking at and how do you ensure that they used a heavy enough mix?"

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"The kinds of works that we are doing in the City - the City Council, (I have to concede this) we don't have the technical capabilities to monitor and ensure that it's done to the level that we would want it. For example we only have one City engineer. I was not aware of the issue that you had raise but it's something overall that we recognized that is a problem at the City Council and it will be solved by us ensuring that we have additional technical personnel at the City Council who can monitor a project of this size."

Jules Vasquez
"We have about 50 streets that have been paved; I am saying that might it be that while everyone loves the paved streets in fact they won't last the 4 decades that you are promising because you all did not have in place the infrastructure to ensure that the standards are there for this sort of street."

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"I am confident that the people who did the streets because we did comprehensive bidding processes, we have designs for most of them especially the large streets like Freetown Road and the reputations of the persons that we used for example Roque Matus, M&M Construction; some of the streets have been done by some of the sub-contractors for Cisco, we had RJB and all of these people - we have Medina's who are doing some of our streets - all of these people are known persons in the street construction and concrete business and of course they have their own professional reputation. I am satisfied that for what we are paying on these streets we are getting quality. Can it be improved? Yes, for example, on the street behind BWS on Evergreen Street, there were some issues where we required the contractor to take corrective action and to re-construct small sections fo that street because we want to ensure that we have quality. Can we use more persons to supervise the works? Yes, but are we supervising the works now, yes. It's a work in progress and we are improving the capabilities of the City Council. I am conceding that we are not perfect in terms if what we are doing, but I am satisfied that we are moving in the right direction and we are improving our capabilities to ensure with the remaining 50 streets we can have much better quality work."

Jules Vasquez
"I don't want to get philosophical but might it be a failure of your management style that (spanish people used a word "rompe rajo") just run it raw, just pave it. Might it be a symptom of that, that you all went ahead and pave without having the ability to properly oversee all the technical dimensions? Your engineer isn't even a member of the association of Professional Engineers."

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"Our engineer is not a member of the Association of Professional Engineers. That's what you are saying?"

Jules Vasquez
"Yes, is that personal?"

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"You have asked me two questions. I want to respond to the first question; It's not that I am saying that we haven't been any monitoring. We have a City Engineer; our Town Planner is an engineer. We have other technical persons. I would want the City Council to a point where we have at least 4 fully qualified, fully staffed professional engineers monitoring all of our works. I wouldn't say that we have been too hasty. When people drove around certain streets in Belize City for example Lawrence Avenue, every time I am on the radio people ask me about that street. Luckily it's going to be started on Monday. That's a street that's in urgent need of repairs. What have been done in these areas in Lake Independence and other areas are things which should have been done in 15-20 years ago."

Jules Vasquez
"Is your engineer a member of the Association of Professional Engineers?"

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"Well we have gotten a letter from the President of the Association of Professional Engineers indicating to us that she is not and that was the first indication that I got from that. That's something that we are looking into to ensure that we are complaint in all respects in terms of our technical personnel. It's something that has not been resolve yet and we expect that it will be resolve in the very near future. The credentialing of professionals is something which is only a procedural requirements, if it is that you need to apply to a certain body - that doesn't take away that you have been educated as an engineer and you've been operating as an engineer for the last 5 years. Our City Engineer has had professional academic training. She has had an engineering degree from a recognized accredited university. To say that she has not submitted an application to an accrediting body and that has not been approved does not detract from her experience, her education and her quality on the ground."

According to the law, specifically the Central Building Act, only registered engineers can sign off on civil works projects. This is to ensure that the public gets value for its money in terms of integrity and longevity of a design. And while violations of this code are widespread, the Belize City Council is spearheading the largest civil works project this city has seen since the infrastructure project in the mid 90's.

As we understand it, the City's Engineer's application has been filed with the Association.

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