Balmain, Calcutta No.2 Bridge, Opens
Minister of Works and Infrastructure Dr Surujrattan Rambachan yesterday said the controversial Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) was revitalised and had successfully completed close to 1,000 projects this year.
Rambachan said the URP programme completed 73.4 kilometres of box drains, 67 retaining walls, nine jogging tracks, seven pavilions, refurbished 25 religious buildings and three empowerment centres.
Speaking at the opening of the Calcutta No 2 bridge at Balmain, Couva, Rambachan said, “People say the URP programme is a waste of time and money. The URP programme did 1,000 projects this year using 603 small contractors. This is the transformation that is taking place in the URP programme that for years people thought could not perform. I have been able to transform this programme with the same management and same people.”
The projects undertaken by the URP programme were completed at approximately $250,000 each.
Residents of Balmain, Calcutta No. 2 and Freeport breathed a sign of relief yesterday as the $28.3 million bridge was opened.
The bridge, which was deemed a safety hazard, was closed to traffic in June 2012. It was the first major bridge to be completed under the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure Bridges, Landslips and Traffic Management division.
Construction of the bridge began in March 2013 by contractor Ragoonath Singh General Contracting Limited.
Rambachan said the bridge was completed within budget. He said the contractor encountered minor challenges causing a delay in completion.
The bridge was completed with a two-lane deck, shoulder and sidewalk.
Rambachan congratulated the contractor for completing 150,000 man hours without any major incidents.
Residents said the closure of the bridge posed an inconvenience as it linked the communities of Couva and Freeport.
Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh said he was pleased the bridge was completed after 25 years of promises by previous administrations. He said the new bridge was expected to stand for the next 100 years.