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Lockdowns and Escalating Shipping Costs Blamed for MCWLE Project Delays

The delivery of a new hot mix plant for the Government of Montserrat and the handover of the new airport control tower are being blamed on the pandemic and the continued escalation of shipping prices globally.

According to the minister with responsibility for Communications, Works, Labour, and Energy, Dr. Samuel Joseph, the closure of the plant contracted to build the island’s new hot mix plant during 2020 continues to have an impact here.

Speaking on Let’s Talk with MCAP public relations officer Jenzil Skerritt, Joseph said now that production has resumed, they were notified that the increased cost of steel and shipping has made the original contract untenable. The government has since approached the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to provide the additional funds requested by the supplier. FCDO has agreed and now they are awaiting word that the supplier will move ahead with production.

“The Government of Montserrat does not have all of the funds to do what we want to do. We must understand what resources are available and how best to use them,” the minister said on air.

Another project affected by the lockdown was the traffic control tower at the John A. Osborne Airport. The CIPREG-funded project is more than a year overdue. Joseph said the contractor, The Galloway Group, has expressed that with escalating costs, additional funds are needed.

The traffic control tower project began in January 2021 and was to last six months.

This issue has been discussed and new timelines agreed to with the FCDO, the contractor and the government. The contractor expects to complete the remaining internal works, installation of doors and railings by the end of September 2022.

Dr. Joseph said his ministry is working to find funds to purchase the equipment needed for the cab at the top of the tower so it can be made operational.

The rising costs throughout the world, he said, is making it a challenge for the government and suppliers. Delays will happen, he added, and contracts then must be varied and approved by FCDO and other donors.