Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 10th 2016 Contents BG10 FEEDBACK
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt NOVEMBER 10 • 2016
On September 4 2016 the daily press published
a tender notice for the construction of 14 km
of highway from Cumuto Junction to Toco Main
Road. The notice indicated the full engineering
designs had been completed by the client.
The construction of the proposed highway is urgently needed;
its completion would support significant economic growth
within the northeastern region of Trinidad and by extension
the entire country. There is absolutely no question as to the
importance of this proposed highway.
The tender notice allowed local and foreign firms to participate
via the submission of a tender, the closing date for submission
of tenders was October 13 2016 with responses being submitted
from six firms; four foreign firms, one foreign partnered with
a local firm and one local firm.
Given the combination of foreign and local firms submitting
bids, there is a high probability that this mega construction
project is likely to be won by a foreign firm. If this happens
the local construction sector will be limited to being a domestic
service provider/sub-contractor. The format of the tender sub-
mission was a two envelope system; a technical proposal and
a commercial proposal. It is understood that the technical pro-
posal is being evaluated at this time.
Based on the tendered scope, the estimated construction
cost of this project could be in the price range of around $1.9
billion. The stipulated contract execution period was stated as
900 calendar days by the employer, effectively a 30 months
construction period. Using a simple performance indicator for
the successful completion of this project an approximate value
of works to the range of around $63 million would have to be
achieved during each month of construction. Given the primary
nature of the proposed works which is likely to be affected by
inclement weather, it is extremely challenging for a single local
and or foreign firm to achieve a value of construction works
of approximately $63 million per month.
Based on the likely difficulty of achieving a value of con-
struction works of around $63 million per month, is it reasonable
to ask the project implementation agency to reconsider their
procurement and implementation strategy keeping the engage-
ment of the local industry as the primary objective.
At this time in Trinidad there is more than adequate numbers
of idle/parked-up heavy construction equipment (trucks,
tractors, excavators etc), concrete and asphalt plants, engineering
and project management staff, skilled and unskilled manpower
as well as materials reserves. The local idle capacity is at this
time significant and as such only local based Contractors should
be considered for implementing works on this mega project.
The project implementation agency should consider dividing
this 14 km highway project into individual small packages eg
one km road sections. Where major bridges are to be constructed,
these structures should be treated as individual packages also.
At the end of the segmentation exercise the 14 km highway
project will be able to generate about 15 to 20 road and bridges
construction packages which can then be offered to the locally
operated large, medium and small firms at industry competitive
pricing. Based on the extremely low level of current construction
activities consideration and engagement of local resources
should be critical.
The benefits of engaging the local firms are as follows:
• The major construction materials input would be aggregates,
cement, rebar and bitumen; all these materials are manufactured
locally, there would be no need to import from overseas.
• Local companies currently have an immense amount to
idle heavy equipment, concrete and asphalt plants, this is no
need for foreign currency to acquire additional plant and equip-
ment, all the plant and equipment resources already exist on
the island (Trinidad can be considered as having the most
amounts of heavy construction equipment, concrete and asphalt
plants per square kilometre when compared to Florida)
• A vast amount of skilled and unskilled manpower can
immediately be employed
• The engagement of the local firms will stimulate other
economic sectors/industries (from our commercial banks to
the food vendors etc.)
• Given all sections of highway will be worked on simul-
taneously using 15 to 20 local firms there exist a high possibility
the project may be completed within a time period less than
the current period of 30 months.
If a foreign firm is eventually selected to construct this
project, the immediate disadvantage to the local construction
sector and the wider economy will be as follows:
• An additional demand on our limited foreign currency
• Given the estimated $1.9 billion spend on this project;
the project may be able to sustain a full set-up whereby the
local sector may not be a significant contributor.
• The profits gained will have to be repatriated to the foreign
company home country
• Foreign workers engaged on the project will also have to
repatriate wages to their home countries
In going forward the project implementation agency should
consider repackaging the project in commercially small packages
together with the development of a construction management
delivery model to manage and supervise project implementation.
This strategy will facilitate construction by our local industry.
The resources and expertise exist locally let s consider a modified
approach in building this much needed highway while sustaining
our local economy.
During the period 2006-2015,
102 individuals lost their lives
in tragic workplace accidents
(approximately 10.2 deaths per
This information, along with other workplace
statistics, was highlighted by Industrial Court
President Deborah Thomas-Felix, during a spe-
cial sitting of the Industrial Court last month.
The number of non-fatal injuries during the
same time period was also highlighted during
the sitting. For instance, there were 895 non-
fatal injuries last year and 686 in the year 2014.
Although the death of one worker is tragic and
injuries can seriously undermine one s quality
of life, it is important to note that the number
of workplace fatalities per year in T&T, is com-
parable to some other countries.
Using information obtained from the Ministry
of Labour and the Central Statistical Office,
there were approximately 1.3 fatalities per
100,000 workers in the year 2014. This can be
loosely compared to similar statistics obtained
by the United States Occupational Safety and
Health Authority (OSHA) and Great Britain s
Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
During roughly the same time period, there
were 3.4 fatalities per 100, 000 workers in the
United States of America and 0.46 fatalities per
100,000 workers in Great Britain. It is also
important to note that this pattern may not
exist every year.
T&T may very well report a higher fatality
ratio than both countries in a particular year.
The workplace fatalities experienced in T&T
may still be considered too high in relation to
economic development and industrial activity.
A rough method for comparing workplace fatal-
ities to economic output can be achieved using
the ratio of workplace fatalities to the gross
domestic product (GDP). By utilising this
method, T&T had the highest workplace fatality
to GDP ratio in 2014 compared to the United
States and that of Great Britain. This also may
not be the case every year.
One limitation of statistics is that the infor-
mation is often met with a degree of apathy.
Readers are often unable to connect with the
lives or the actual person the statistics represents.
That connection is an important element nec-
essary to translate statistics and research into
meaningful workplace policies and practices.
Statistics are incapable of revealing the deep
psychological or physical trauma associated with
work-related deaths and injuries.
Anand Parag is among the 895 persons to
have suffered from a non-fatal injury in 2010.
His accident---represented as a number---did
not appropriately convey the mental and physical
trauma associated with him losing a leg and the
months and possibly years of therapy. It certainly
did not reveal his major difficulties in handling
Asim Arthur died in an industrial accident
in 2012, days before his wedding and a few
months before he could have seen the birth of
Another potentially serious occupational
health issue often not highlighted is the preva-
lence of occupational diseases.
Part 15 (XV), Schedule 1 of the Occupational
Health and Safety Act 3 amended in 2006,
recognises more than 50 potential occupational
diseases. A significant number of these diseases
can be caused by chemicals found in the oil and
gas industry and in other highly industrialised
environments. With a proliferation of potentially
hazardous chemicals, the probability of a worker
acquiring an occupational disease is quite sig-
nificant. Although health and safety measures
within the oil and gas industry have been found
to be strict, it is highly unlikely that over the
last two decades, a few workers would not have
contracted an occupational disease. Information
and basic research regarding occupational dis-
eases in T&T is still somewhat limited.
The recent case of Robert Daisley highlights
the importance of conducting research on occu-
In 2015, Daisley received compensation
amounting to $1 million for contracting occu-
pational cancer. The court of law determined
that the nasopharyngeal carcinoma Daisley con-
tracted was due to toxic chemical exposures in
his former workplace.
How many additional workers in that working
environment could have contracted some form
of cancer and died?
How many could have acquired an occupa-
tional disease and simply did not report the
disease to the relevant authorities?
Currently, there may be a lot of workers
exposed to hazardous chemicals on a daily basis
with limited research available on the magnitude
and possible outcomes of these exposures.
As the country battles with a worsening eco-
nomic outlook, several organisations will be
forced to make major financial cuts. Occupational
health and basic industrial hygiene is often seen
as the first casualty in these circumstances.
Workers may then be at risk of developing occu-
pational diseases and suffering injuries as cut-
backs are made to maximise profits.
Organisations should realise that sound occu-
pational health and safety practices can help
save money. This was also a critical point made
by the Industrial Court president.
Although sometimes difficult to appropriately
quantify, the cost of accidents have been found
A case for occupational health
Divide highway to Toco
into smaller packages
Continued on Page 11
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