Something big is about to happen in the quiet little town of St. Mark and residents are in high spirits.
The talk on the street, is the “Bonair River Project” and the Chinese people that are renting two houses in town and increasing daily commercial activities.
On the actual work site, a space has been cleared and fenced off, on the river-bank, adjacent to the Bonair Government School. This is to create the work-base for equipment and the over 90 workers, mostly St. Mark residents, who will be employed on the project. Female Chinese Engineer, Apple, said “the fencing is also to protect the children housed at the school, from getting hurt by equipment during the operation”.
One St. Mark resident who literally lives on the bank of the river said “I cannot wait to see this project off the ground” as he pointed in an effort to demonstrate the height of the water, when from time-to-time it rushes from the hills, in great fury.
He said that the river is known to spill over the small bridge, which connects the road to the Bonair Government School. He also pointed to a nearby garage and said “at its worst, the river will easily rip that structure from its foundation and run through the town”.
Unlike construction companies, which focus mainly on the construction phase of a project; China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), is an EPC Contractor i.e. Engineering, Procurement and Construction. This means that China Harbour is also responsible for the initial hydraulic and other studies, as well as the drawings etc. These studies and drawings must be first presented to government for signoff, before the actual construction phase can commence. Further, in the case of this project, it is much easier to manage when the river is at its lowest flow, i.e. during the dry season.
The drawings are now being signed off by Government and as the dry season approaches; things are ready to roll out. The Company has indicated that most of the required equipment and manpower are already on the ground.
The gabion baskets, which will be the main constraints used to keep the river within its channel, should be cleared from Customs in the coming week, along with all remaining equipment.
Vanessa Bromfield, a Grenadian and the HR Manager for the St. Mark project said that although the focus of the project, in terms of employment opportunity, is mainly on the residents of St. Mark and surrounding areas; as CHEC takes on more projects in Grenada, employment opportunities will open up for persons throughout the length and breadth of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.