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The Moliniere land slippage problem

The Moliniere road slippage – is causing a nightmare for engineers and contractors

An experienced Grenadian Geologist with international exposure believes that the Land Slippage project at Moliniere is challenging but can be successfully dealt with by the new Congress government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell.

The Geologist who is based in the United States made the comment to THE NEW TODAY after reviewing several photographs of the situation in the area which is located in the St George North-west constituency of former Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

“The geology at the site is complex and changes rapidly. As a result, our contractor is having a hard time stabilising the slide along the northern and southern areas. They cannot afford to excavate too much to the north because they could cause damage to the foundation of the adjacent house,” he said.

“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.” he added.

According to the Geologist with over 30 years of experience in major projects in the U.S, this kind of work will require the contractor, geologist, structural engineer and project manager to discuss the issues in a thorough manner to get the best results.

“The Geologist should have the ability to carefully provide his or her analysis of the problem and as a team they should be able to solve the problem.” he said.

The break in the Moliniere road has been causing great inconvenience to persons travelling on the western side of the island as they have to traverse the dangerous and hilly Mt. Moritz Road.

A few weeks before the June 23, 2022 General Election, the then ruling New National Party (NNP) administration of Dr. Keith Mitchell announced that a St Lucian construction company had been awarded a multi-million dollar contract to tackle the Moliniere Land Slippage.

Speculation is rife that the announcement was part of an election and vote-catching gimmick by the NNP regime as the project has run into several problems.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the Contractor is refusing 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.

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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 recent weeks, it was revealed that the British government had withdrawn the EC$92 million grant that it had pledged to Grenada during a 2015 visit to the island by then Prime Minister David Cameron for the Western corridor road rehabilitation including a bridge, as well as a water project for NAWASA which was centered around the laying of pipes from Concord to the south of the island.

The British withdrew the funds that were lodged for safe-keeping in the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) after nearly eight years mainly due to Grenada’s failure to put the projects in place for drawdown of the money.

Another reason cited by the current British administration is financial constraints on its foreign budget due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.

A seasoned Grenadian Engineer who operates on a neighbouring island took issue with the approach by the former NNP regime in tackling the Moliniere Land Slippage.

He said: “The manner in which Keith Mitchell and Gregory Bowen approached this very complex issue to hire fly-by-night capacity has resulted in the debacle that could become a calamity when the rainy season comes.”

He cautioned new Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell to avoid “taking a similar blind-sided path” and be weary of those within his ministry offering advice but lack the qualification and knowledge in dealing with complex megaprojects.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the Congress government is looking to recruit a new CTO from outside the island.

The overseas-based Grenadian Geologist also made some comments on the island’s failure to attract qualified Engineers to take up the post of Chief Technical Officer (CTO) and other top flight engineers in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Physical Development.

He said: “That is a problem Grenada will always have because good engineering skills and knowledge comes with experience and time and young engineers working with older ones to help them understand what they are looking at and the issues involved.”

“Most of our engineers return home to become paper tigers and politicians and very few are properly trained because there is little continuity and mentoring. There are few if any mentors,” he added.

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