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Resolving the Moliniere Road Slippage

The Moliniere land slippage is causing a nightmare for engineers and contractors to get the designs right

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell expects work at the Moliniere Land Slippage to resume fully within the next week or two.

Speaking to THE NEW TODAY on Sunday, the Prime Minister said the project is not at “a standstill” but that the Engineers and other technical people are making sure that the design is correct to tackle the unstable rock surface in the area.

He said the Moliniere site is “a very unstable site” and the challenge being faced “is stabilising the rocks.”

He indicated that “additional challenges” came in doing the project when it started as a NAWASA main line passing through the area got broken a few months ago.

The Prime Minister also alluded to a problem that arose within the Ministry of Infrastructure between its personnel and the Consultants who are from a firm out of Trinidad & Tobago known as BESTON which resulted in them being off the job for a period of time.

“The folks in the Ministry of Infrastructure were relying on the Cuban Engineers that we have to look at whether or not the design (from BESTON) for solving the issue needs to be changed.

“So where we’re at now is that we are reviewing both the Cuban design which now includes building significantly more retaining walls which were not part of the original designs and BESTON was invited to come back particularly to look at the rock/land surface because the site is very unstable.”

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell also pointed out another issue at the Moliniere site relating to the fact that there are some parts in which loose material is constantly falling.

“We are also aware that right at the top of the hill we have two residential homes so we are also concerned about protecting our citizens – about safeguarding those homes.

“In reality, this is not an easy fix – the rock itself changes almost every 2 or 3 metres. Some places have solid rock, some places have very, very soft light material that is constantly flowing.

“So we have to make sure that whatever Engineering design is recommended is one that can stabilise the rock surface, two, that can protect us from any future rock fall, and … so it is not an easy fix. We are going to make sure that we have as much advice as we can from Engineers.”

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell acknowledged that Engineers always tend to differ about what they think is the best solution for a problem but the government is looking at arriving at the best possible solution to resolve the Moliniere Land Slippage.

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“So we are trying to get all that information and then we expect in the next week or two we will make a final determination to proceed.

“The contractor is still on site – he is doing a lot of the work that could be done in the meantime pending the issue of how we could stabilise the rocks.”

A respectable Grenadian Geologist operating in the United States concluded after reviewing photographs of the site that the geology in the Moliniere area “is complex and changes rapidly” and there is a problem in “stabilising the slide along the northern and southern areas.”

He went on to say: “Stabilisation of the northern and southern areas of the slide may not be possible through excavation only. A number of repair methods such as retaining walls, rock fill, soil nailing, cement grouting etc., will need to be explored in order to determine the best and most cost effective solutions.”

The break in the Moliniere road has resulted in great inconvenience to the travelling public on the western side of the island as they are now forced to use the hilly Mt. Moritz Road.

The former Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government was accused of rushing to start the multi-million dollar project with a St Lucian company in time for the June 23, 2022 General Election although several questions were raised about the designs.

The Contractor reportedly ran into problems and refused to allow his workers to cut into the hilly terrain out of fears that the area is a gravel heap and can collapse any time posing danger to the working crew.

The completion of the Moliniere project was considered as crucial to the rehabilitation of the Road Network on the Western side of the island that had attracted funding from the British government.

In November 2022, the British government withdrew the EC$92 million grant funding it had pledged to assist with rehabilitation of its road network on the western side of the island as well as for a water project involving NAWASA to lay pipes from Concord to the south of the island.

This week Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell told THE NEW TODAY that he was able to get the British government to recommit the funds for the NAWASA project but Grenada will not get back the money for the road project, that will be lost due to the failure of the NNP regime to come up with the design for the project in order to draw down on the funds.

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