CAF loan funds four major highway projects

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In June 2021, CAF–De­vel­op­ment Bank of Latin Amer­i­ca–grant­ed a loan of US$175 mil­lion ($1.19 bil­lion) to T&T, with the ob­jec­tive of mod­ernising the trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture in the coun­try.

In a re­lease an­nounc­ing the loan, CAF stat­ed, «The loan will be used for in­sti­tu­tion­al strength­en­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly up­dat­ing plans, strate­gies and mod­ernising the reg­u­la­to­ry frame­work of process man­age­ment, such as up­dat­ing laws re­lat­ed to land trans­port, de­vel­op­ing a pol­i­cy for the mar­itime sec­tor, plan strate­gies for pub­lic trans­port and the air sec­tor, qual­i­ty sys­tems, etc. Ad­di­tion­al­ly, the cred­it will tack­le ac­tiv­i­ties to im­prove the qual­i­ty of in­fra­struc­ture, with ini­tia­tives such as fea­si­bil­i­ty stud­ies, mod­erni­sa­tion of roads, ports and air­ports, road main­te­nance, among oth­ers.»

CAF added the loan will sup­port man­age­ment, plan­ning, and in­vest­ment aimed at pro­mot­ing the mod­erni­sa­tion of in­fra­struc­ture and qual­i­ty trans­porta­tion ser­vices that will con­tribute to eco­nom­ic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty gains.

When con­tact­ed, Works and Trans­port Min­is­ter Sinanan said the de­tails of the loan and what had been dis­persed for the works could on­ly be an­swered by the Min­istry of Fi­nance. The Busi­ness Guardian did not get a re­sponse from the Fi­nance Min­istry con­cern­ing the loan.

How­ev­er, CAF con­firmed, «To date, US$140 mil­lion ($952 mil­lion from the Sec­tor Wide Ap­proach Pro­gramme for a Mod­ernised Trans­porta­tion In­fra­struc­ture (ap­proved in Ju­ly 2021) have been dis­bursed.»

CAF stat­ed the loan was not mere­ly linked to spe­cif­ic projects as it stat­ed, «This type of loan is not linked to spe­cif­ic projects, but seeks to sus­tain and fos­ter in­sti­tu­tion­al strength­en­ing ef­forts in the sec­tor, in­clud­ing up­dat­ing plans, strate­gies and reg­u­la­to­ry frame­works re­lat­ed to air, sea, land and ur­ban trans­port. In this way, it con­tributes to im­prove the qual­i­ty of in­fra­struc­ture, with ini­tia­tives such as fea­si­bil­i­ty stud­ies, mod­erni­sa­tion of roads, ports and air­ports, road main­te­nance, among oth­ers.»

How­ev­er in Oc­to­ber’s bud­get, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert made it clear that the loan had been fig­ured in­to the Gov­ern­ment’s plans for 2022, specif­i­cal­ly through on­go­ing and up­com­ing high­way im­prove­ment projects.

Min­is­ter Im­bert said, «The De­vel­op­ment Bank of Latin Amer­i­ca (CAF) is pro­vid­ing a sec­tor-wide ap­proach pro­gramme loan of US$175 mil­lion for a mod­ernised trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture that is con­sis­tent with the ob­jec­tives of the pipeline projects which the bank is al­ready fi­nanc­ing.» Those projects were the Solomon Ho­choy High­way Ex­ten­sion to Point Fortin, the Churchill Roo­sevelt to San­gre Grande, the Diego Mar­tin Over­pass, and the Va­len­cia to To­co road­way.

The long-await­ed Point Fortin High­way has been un­der con­struc­tion for over a decade, but Min­is­ter Im­bert said the CAF loan would be used to fund a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of the project.

In his pre­sen­ta­tion, Im­bert said, «The com­plet­ed high­way will make a cru­cial con­tri­bu­tion to the de­vel­op­ment and growth of the com­mu­ni­ties con­nect­ed by the high­way, in­clud­ing Debe, Mon De­sir, Fyz­abad, La Brea and Point Fortin. In 2022, the pri­or­i­ty link is sched­uled to be com­plet­ed: Dum­fries to Dun­lop and Fyz­abad to Mon De­sir.»

Nid­co told the Busi­ness Guardian that work is cur­rent­ly on­go­ing on a pri­or­i­ty link of the Solomon Ho­choy High­way Ex­ten­sion to Point Fortin. This in­volves the con­struc­tion of 29.5 km of 4-lane high­way which will ex­tend from Dum­fries Road (La Ro­main) to Dun­lop Round­about (Point Fortin). Nid­co stat­ed five of 12 pack­ages in this phase are com­plet­ed in­clud­ing the up­grade and widen­ing of six km of the South Trunk road and the con­struc­tion of six bridges.

As for the re­main­ing sev­en pack­ages, work is un­der­way con­cern­ing the con­struc­tion of «five in­ter­changes lo­cat­ed at Oropouche Junc­tion, Mon De­sir, Grants Road, La Brea and Guapo, two over­pass bridges lo­cat­ed at Del­hi Road and South­ern Main Road (Vance Riv­er) and 23.5 km of 4 lanes rur­al ar­te­r­i­al high­way.»

Nid­co es­ti­mat­ed the project to be ap­prox­i­mate­ly 85 per cent com­plet­ed with the Dum­fries Road (La Ro­main) to Dun­lop Round­about stretch ex­pect­ed to be opened to traf­fic by the last quar­ter of 2022.

Min­is­ter Im­bert al­so de­tailed the loan would be used for the Va­len­cia to To­co Road, which he said will in­crease op­por­tu­ni­ties for busi­ness and eco­nom­ic in­vest­ments for the east­ern re­gion, in par­tic­u­lar the com­mu­ni­ties be­tween Matelot and San­gre Grande.

He stat­ed in the pre­sen­ta­tion that con­struc­tion on that road is ex­pect­ed to com­mence in 2022.

Ac­cord­ing to a post in March on the Min­istry of Works and Trans­port’s Youtube Chan­nel page work on that project has pro­gressed well, as the clip de­tail­ing the scope of works ex­plained by PURE pro­gramme di­rec­tor Hay­den Phillip stat­ed, «This ex­ten­sive project is cur­rent­ly 69 per cent com­plet­ed.»

Nid­co, in re­sponse to the Busi­ness Guardian’s ques­tions con­cern­ing progress on the project stat­ed, «The CEC for the project was grant­ed in April 2021. The project has been di­vid­ed in­to ten seg­ments for ease of con­struc­tion. De­tailed de­signs have been com­plet­ed for sev­en out of the ten seg­ments. All de­signs should be com­plet­ed by Au­gust 2022.»

The ex­ten­sion of the Churchill Roo­sevelt High­way to San­gre Grande was al­so among the projects fund­ed by the loan.

Nid­co said, «the con­struc­tion of the 5km high­way seg­ment east of the Cu­mu­to Main Road is ap­prox­i­mate­ly 80 per cent com­plet­ed, with works on both pack­ages ex­pect­ed to be com­plet­ed in Au­gust 2022. In De­cem­ber 2021, a Cer­tifi­cate of En­vi­ron­men­tal Clear­ance was grant­ed for the con­struc­tion of the oth­er seg­ments of the high­way from Waller­field to San­gre Grande. «

Nid­co stat­ed it is «now mov­ing ahead to es­tab­lish con­nec­tiv­i­ty be­tween Cu­mu­to and San­gre Grande. The con­struc­tion of a 2km Con­nec­tor Road from the end of the cur­rent con­struc­tion works to the East­ern Main Road is ex­pect­ed to com­mence in Au­gust 2022.»

As for the con­struc­tion of ve­hic­u­lar and pedes­tri­an bridge in Diego Mar­tin, work be­gan in March 2021, with the Fi­nance Min­is­ter stat­ing he ex­pect­ed the project to be com­plet­ed in 2022. Nid­co con­firmed work com­plet­ed to date in­clud­ed the con­struc­tion of a bridge and the abut­ment walls and cen­tre pier; re­tain­ing walls –on the east­ern side of the over­pass.

Nid­co al­so not­ed sig­nif­i­cant drainage work was done on the Diego Mar­tin High­way, Co­corite Farms and the West­ern Main Road with «Key im­prove­ments to the drainage sys­tem com­plet­ed to date in­clude the con­struc­tion of a new box cul­vert un­der the Diego Mar­tin High­way in the vicin­i­ty of Pow­der Mag­a­zine and a dou­ble-pipe cul­vert un­der the West­ern Main Road just east of Massy Stores, West­moor­ings, which is ex­pect­ed to re­lieve flood­ing in the area.»

Ad­di­tion­al­ly, Nid­co stat­ed cru­cial road works have be­gun north of the Colum­bus Boule­vard and West­ern Main Road in­ter­sec­tion, the con­nect­ing the In­ter­sec­tion to the over­pass, with the nec­es­sary util­i­ty re­lo­ca­tions are in progress to fa­cil­i­tate the con­struc­tion in the area.

Nid­co did not is­sue a com­ple­tion date on the Diego Mar­tin project.

A fifth project was al­so slat­ed to be fund­ed by the CAF loan.

In the Bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion, Min­is­ter Im­bert al­so list­ed the Ma­coya In­ter­change project, which is part of the process of elim­i­nat­ing traf­fic lights in the East-West Cor­ri­dor along the Churchill Roo­sevelt High­way, as one of the projects to be fund­ed by the loan. Min­is­ter Im­bert said the con­struc­tion of the Ma­coya in­ter­change is ex­pect­ed to com­mence in 2022.

In the Min­istry of Works and Trans­port’s year in re­view, Min­is­ter Ro­han Sinanan hailed that his Min­istry was able to do more with less, giv­en the coun­try’s eco­nom­ic stand­ing fol­low­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic.

He said, «De­spite our eco­nom­ic cli­mate. For the first time in the his­to­ry of T&T, we have four ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture high­way projects on­go­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly.»

While the sig­nif­i­cant fo­cus has been on these ma­jor high­way projects, mo­torists around the coun­try have com­plained about the state of com­mon­ly used road­ways around the coun­try, a fact even Min­is­ter Sinanan re­flect­ed up­on in his 2021 re­view.

He said, «I have not­ed with great con­cern the dis­plea­sure of the gen­er­al pub­lic as it re­lates to the cur­rent con­di­tion of some of our roads. We have not stuck our heads in the sand at the min­istry nor have we passed the buck, bet­ter needs to be done. But giv­en the cur­rent eco­nom­ic stand­ings, we will con­tin­ue to ad­dress these chal­lenges head-on in a strate­gic man­ner that will al­low for the best use of tax­pay­ers’ dol­lars.»

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LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian

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