In T&T: Contractors Complaining About Asphalt Shortage

1 November 2011

Where has all the pitch gone? Minister Warner expresses dismay at ‘shortage’ despite Lake Asphalt seemingly satisfying all orders.

Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner wants to know where the bitumen being produced by Lake Asphalt of Trinidad and Tobago is being used, since road contractors are complaining that they can’t get the material.

Warner is also concerned about the quality of the road works and fears that the highway from San Fernando to Point Fortin will not last, given the poor quality of work.

Warner raised the issues during a tour yesterday of Lake Asphalt, La Brea, where he met with several contractors.

Contractors were told that the company was instituting a “no credit” policy because Lake Asphalt was being owed millions, and could not collect.

Warner said some contractors “say they can’t get bitumen. I want to know where the bitumen is going and who are the culprits behind it. I have to wonder why our roads so bad”.

He said the surface on older highways lasted 30 years, but the roads being paved today “don’t even last 30 months”.

He said, “I cannot continue spending money that way. I want to know whether I have any reason to fear about the highway to Point Fortin.”

Chairman of Lake Asphalt, Kuarlal Rampersad, said the company was meeting all contractors’ demands for material and he was surprised that they were complaining. He said a certificate of analysis was submitted with each truckload or batch of material coming from the Pitch Lake, La Brea.

Rampersad said, “One contractor purchased three million gallons and based on the records no jobs were done. That is why we are working closely with the ministry. One contractor was given a sweet-bread deal by paying (less) for asphalt while others paid the full price”.

Rampersad said “by January 1 (next year) each contractor must register their business. They must partner with Lake Asphalt to purchase bitumen. That way it should be planned and scheduled before they come for asphalt”.

Rampersad said the company was also introducing a “no credit” policy to curb instances of contractors not paying. He said one contractor owed $24 million.

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