Between Government House and Queen Elizabeth II Park, a new lane is being added next to the westbound lane of Waterfront Drive. Heading east, manhole covers (bottom left) present obstacles for cars to navigate. (Photo: Allison Vaughn)

Despite three deadline extensions in a tender process launched last October, only one company bid last week for a 38-mile road reconstruction project on Tortola, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke.

To repave roads around the territory — adding slipper drains and sidewalks along with reflective road markings — the St. Kitts-based Surrey Paving and Aggregate Company (Caribbean) Limited quoted the Ministry of Communications and Works a price of $37,354,503.55.

Surrey was not among the three companies represented at the Nov. 17 pre-tender meeting.

The companies that did attend the meeting — the United Kingdom-based Northam Construction, the UK-based P&F Construction, and the VI-based Tortola Paving LTD — did not submit bids.

Three delays

The original deadline for bid submissions was Nov. 18. But an Oct. 31 addendum to the tender documents pushed it to Dec. 19. On Dec. 6, another addendum was released, postponing the deadline to Jan. 9. On Dec. 22, a final addendum rescheduled the deadline and subsequent bid opening to Jan. 30.

At 10 a.m. that day at the Ministry of Finance, the “tender box” closed. An hour later, the ministry live-streamed the tender opening ceremony.

After thanking attendees, including Procurement Unit Senior Executive Citrine Straker and acting Procurement Coordinator Diana Purcell-Gumbs, Ministry of Finance Projects Director Dr. Drexel Glasgow opened the box.

“Okay, tender number one, which is the only tender, is from Surrey Paving and Aggregate Company (Caribbean) Limited — that’s Surrey Paving and Aggregate Company (Caribbean) Limited,” Dr. Glasgow announced.

After reading the bid price, he did not provide further information about the bid.

Tender documents

When government announced the tender in October, it stated that the roads should be constructed in “conformity with an internationally acceptable standard.”

The planned works include preparing the “road base to receive new asphalt paving;” facilitating works for “all utility manholes;” ensuring that drainage structures and sidewalks “achieve an acceptable and level finished pavement;” and “testing of aggregate and asphalt design mix prior to asphalt paving, amongst other things,” according to an Oct. 26 press release. A separate notice to tenderers stated that roads are to be paved according to “standard traffic management and health and safety practices.”

Neither document defined the “standard” in question.

On Main Street, below, what little sidewalk exists is full of cracks, holes and sudden stoppages. (Photo: Rushton Skinner)

To fund the repairs, Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley, who is the minister of finance, has committed to securing loan funding, according to Communcations and Works Minister Kye Rymer.

“The road infrastructure throughout the territory is not ideal,” Mr. Rymer said on Oct. 31 in the House of Assembly. “There is substantial deterioration of not only the top layer, which is the asphalt layer, but also the base and subbase layers that have been compromised in many areas.”

Mr. Rymer also explained that many of the issues affecting roads are caused by improper or undersized drainage pathways.

“Most of the roads were not built with any drainage consideration, which has led to their undermining and deterioration,” he said. “For those roads that have drainage, they are undersized and do not meet the requirements.”

On improperly graded roads, he added, water pools and increases the rate of deterioration.

“The continuous rainfall has delayed the [Public Works Department’s] ability to grade the roadways, causing some inconvenience to residents, especially those using unpaved tertiary access roads,” the minister said. “To aid in rapid response and relief, we have also involved each district representative to take ownership of their communities, along with an assigned member of the Public Works team to address any related issues from the storm.”

Anegada will not be included in the project.

“The plan for Anegada is to pave those roads with concrete only, so there was no need to include Anegada in the asphalt paving tender works,” Mr. Rymer said at the time.