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Dec 22, 2009

Protective embankment on highway collapses into river

Story PictureA portion of a protective embankment at mile seven on the Northern Highway caved into the river while construction was taking place. It is considered a dangerous stretch that runs parallel with the Belize River and is prone to accidents. Cadet Henderson, the C.E.O. in the Ministry of Works, says the project was designed, tendered and sublet for pile driving to the private sector. So what went wrong last Friday? Henderson says that the piles were placed into far into the water, but that the ministry is working on improving construction standards.

Via Phone: Cadet Henderson, C.E.O., Ministry of Works
“A section of approximately one-third of a one hundred and forty foot section was under construction for a river protection at the location had yielded. It tilted undesirably into the river. The affected portion had been removed and work will continue after the holiday season. This situation poses no threat to the highway or to motorists in that vicinity. After all we were doing preventative maintenance work. This work was planned long before any6 failure occurred initially; a month or so ago. So the river bank protection will continue.”

Jose Sanchez
“How much money more or less went into the river? How much investment are we talking about?”

Via Phone: Cadet Henderson
“I have no numbers on hand but I’d like to appeal to you to look at this as a normal construction. We had the collapse of the Kendall Bridge and the media didn’t call to ask questions. What we are doing here is preventative maintenance work, work that should have been done maybe a decade ago and this area is not inside the contract. This was an area that was outside the scope of the contract with the contractor and I say there’s no room for finger pointing. We responsibly restored the area to what we targeted to do with it. The failure that occurred is basically due to the fact that the piles were driven further out into the river than was expected, due to the collapse of an old wall that was obstructing it being sited at the intended location and that the tow was secured because the so called dead men who were not tied into the structure was not in place and it’s always vulnerable to that kind of yields if it is not fully tied at the top and bottom. That retaining wall is just one element of twenty contracts that we have in a package to improve the road network, to improve drainage and to protect vulnerable river embankment.”

While construction has been interrupted, it is expected that workmen will be back on the highway following the Christmas Holidays.


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