MARTIN: BRIDGE COLLAPSE AND FIRE REPORTS SOON TO BE MADE PUBLIC By Nigel Jameson The Hon. Earl Asim Martin, Minister of Public Works, Utilities, Transport and Postal Services, who until now has remained silent on the “full and thorough investigation into what went wrong”in the collapse of a bridge under construction along the West Basseterre Bypass Road near the Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw Airport has said that the reports on investigations into that incident and the fire at the Needsmust power station which destroyed the control panel of two of its largest generators, significantly damaging one of them last year, are going to be released to the public shortly. Vincentian national Allick Toney, 64, was killed, and Guyanese nationals Ian ‘Shatta” Warde and Mortland Watterton, were injured and hospitalized after the bridge collapsed about 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday May 14, 2008. The work was dubbed the West Basseterre Bypass Road Project. The contractor was Professional Technologies (Anguilla) Ltd. The engineering firm was Halcrow Group Ltd. “It’s just a bad day, a sad day. I really miss my co-worker,”lamented Dexter Francis, who was working on the deck of the bridge at the time when it collapsed. “We were in the middle of casting concrete and everything was going well when I felt like something was moving. By the time I could look around, the deck was going down and everybody was trying to save themselves, so I tried to save myself too,’said Mr. Francis said. “When we looked down we realized that two persons were missing and one guy was covered in concrete. We tried our best to dig him out but it was too late.””I guess the decking didn’t have enough support,’said Mr. Francis. Minister Martin, who was at the accident scene to pledge his support and show concern, registered his feelings. “I am really disturbed at what occurred here this morning, the loss of life, the injuries sustained to two workers. We are concerned about that,”Mr. Martin said. “There will be a full and thorough investigation into what went wrong,”he said. According to Mr. Martin, a consulting firm out of St. Lucia was assigned by the Caribbean Development Bank (C.D.B.) to the project. “They are the ones who would definitely have to give us a comprehensive report on the project and what occurred here,”Mr. Martin said. He continued, “As I was told the engineer who is assigned to the project, Mr. Greenidge, from Alco, actually gave the instructions this morning to pour the concrete. He was on site at the time and he too is very disturbed about the accident that occurred,’said Mr. Martin. He reiterated that the engineers and the consulting firm will definitely be involved in making a comprehensive analysis of what occurred and what could have occurred to cause this serious accident. Minister Martin had refused to comment on the preliminary report saying that he preferred to wait on the final report because he didn’t want information to be muddied or misconstrued by the general public. With regard to the fire Min Martin said at the time: “As Minister of Public Works, I have made it an absolute priority to get to the bottom of this development. I have requested that all of the facts be uncovered to me. My ministry issues sincere apologies for the inconveniences that the fire has caused,”at a press conference at Needsmust on the afternoon of October 2, 2008. “Like everyone else in St. Kitts and Nevis, I was shocked to hear that there was a fire at the Needsmust Power Station,”he said. As a result of the fire, the power station lost its two largest engines, the Mirrlees 8MB 430 and the Mirrlees 12 MB 430, causing an islandwide blackout. Last week Wednesday Dr. Martin was asked if he still planned to make the findings public. “The two technical advisors, or the two technical representatives, both for electricity and for the consultant for the roads, should be here shortly,”he said. The minister acknowledged that a lot of time had passed since the incidents had occurred, and since the public was originally supposed to have been updated. “Quite some time,”he said. “But I”ve been insisting upon them to do that and to have it done, they have given me their assurance, once they are here very shortly we are expecting them to do that. I”ve spoken to Mr. Mandish, and I”ve spoken to Mr. Burns and the gentleman with respect to the fire consultant to do that as quickly as possible…Both of them are expected to do that at the same time, simultaneously. I”d want the two reports to be presented to the public at the same time.”The investigation into the fire at the power station was conducted by US-based Rimkus Consulting group, while the investigation into the bridge collapse was conducted by Professional Technologies (ProTech), which is the company constructing the West Basseterre Bypass Road.
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