|Criminals will not be tolerated at work sites |
By Cecily Asson Monday, January 13 2014
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BUILDING BRIDGES: Works and Infrastructure Minister Suruj Rambachan operates the controls of an excavator while Labour Minister and MP for the Pointe-...
Works and Infrastructure Minister Surujrattan Rambachan yesterday officially launched the Bridges Reconstruction Programme and also turned the sod to begin construction work on the Bull Bull Bridge at Cedar Hill, Claxton Bay.
The bridge currently accommodates single-lane traffic but will be widened to allow two lanes of traffic and will be built at a cost of $18 million by Lutchmeesingh Contractors.
Rambachan warned he will not tolerate the criminal elements to interrup work which he said appears to be a new trend, forcing contractors to abandon jobs.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Rambachan said the lawless action of some of the residents in the community must be stopped.
“Yesterday, a contractor came to see me. He had to abandon a job in Enterprise (Chaguanas) where the people came and stopped the work. These are the criminal elements who want to tax people and we are going to combat it. We are going to stamp it out as this situation can’t be tolerated. The strong arm of the law will have to kick in,” he warned.
Rambachan told reporters that within the last few months, there have been several complaints of thuggery and violence on projects in various communities.
“Workers are abandoning jobs as their lives are being threatened. You cannot have people willing to work, even for the minimum wage, and people want to tax you. I think it is just people who want easy money,” he said.
He said two weeks ago in La Lune, Moruga, a work crew was chased out by residents, who protested for better roads and bridges in the area.
“They stopped the workmen from fixing the bridges,” Rambachan said. “I had to get the army to go there to get the work completed.”
He said similar problems were encountered at Cedar Hill Road, also in Claxton Bay.
“We attempted to rebuild a bridge there on three occasions and people came out and interrupted it. We continue to face this problem... people coming and stopping the work. It happened at the Battoo Boulevard pavilion in Marabella. On several occasions they came with cutlasses to stop the workers. The contractors ended up paying them money to sit there and they did nothing. It is the kind of lawlessness we are not willing to work with and we are going to be dealing with that situation in La Lune also in Matelot, and River Estate in Diego Martin. Last week we had the problem where they sat in a contractors car and demanded money.”
Rambachan said the society must stand up against the criminals.
“Not just the Government, but everybody in the society must say a big ‘no’ to that type of behaviour.”
Last week, thugs spray-painted obscene warnings to the police, informants and residents on two buildings in a Couva housing development in what is believed to be an attempt to extort money from contractors hired by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC).
Lutchmeesingh Contractors have already agreed to employ 20 percent of its labour force for the project from among residents in the Cedar Hill Road community.
The Bull Bridge is one of 11 bridges to be built in the Phase One project of the Bridges Reconstruction Programme at a total cost of $192.42 million.
Rambachan also called on contractors to use the dry season to get as much work as possible done and possibly extending work hours to 12 to 14 hours to get the job done on time.