As the deterioration of land slippage along the Molinere, Saint George road worsens, estimated to be beyond 600 feet to date, the progress of work to remedy the issue seem slow-moving.
In The Grenadian Voice’s last update article in March, the Ministry of Infrastructure said procurement of a firm to conduct geotechnical studies of the area is still ongoing, and estimated the depth of the land slippage to almost 600 feet.
Recent video of the area posted on social media earlier this month shows further deterioration of the area, which has since been declared a sub- national disaster zone. Residents have since been relocated to safer zones and pedestrians and motorists are advised to not traverse through the area. Those found non-compliant have been ticketed by the Police.
In December, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Works, Hon Gregory Bowen, informed that consultants have already been shortlisted to conduct the study.
In providing an update on a local radio programme last week, Hon Bowen said the Ministry has shortlisted 5 consultants whose names will be submitted to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The consultants are to submit proposals to the Bank, and one will be selected.
According to Bowen, this project is funded by the UK government and the funds pass through the CDB. Thus, he said Grenada must follow the Bank’s rules for international bidding.
Minister Bowen said the selected consultant will do the geological study, “and we believe the outcome of that study will be don’t touch that road.” He added that the consultant will suggest where a new road can be constructed.
The Infrastructure Development Minister said in 2014 a project was written to address over 70 land slippages throughout Grenada.
Last year, Hon Bowen noted that when former UK Prime Minister David Cameron visited the Caribbean in 2015, Grenada received US$28 million in grant, some of which went to NAWASA and the remainder to address slippages on the western main road.
Minster Bowen said $16 million of that money will help to conduct the geotechnical studies for slippages along with the western main road.
Last week, he said if the grant monies are insufficient for this project, then the State will have to fund the shortfall, noting that there are areas with not just land slippage, but rockfalls.
“This is not a simple matter, it is not an issue of we could have done something before, it is the same thing we have been doing – soil study and whereas 300 feet below it may show something we never know – a hollow, a cave; but we need the apparatus and we need the people that can read the results,” the Minister stated.
Hon Bowen pointed out that more residents will have to be relocated and areas are being identified. He said Grenada has applied to the World Bank for emergency funds to assist with the relocation.
With the extended use of the Mt Mortiz and New Hampshire bypass roads resulting in further damage to them, the Minister stated that rehabilitation works will have to be done, including installation of more guard rails.
The land slippage is being attributed to recent excavation in the area to construct a private home. This newspaper has confirmed that the contractor was given permission by the Physical Planning Unit.