Richland Park homeowners fear wall will collapse (+ video)
Wall outside of the Johns Property
Front Page
February 10, 2023

Richland Park homeowners fear wall will collapse (+ video)

by: Christina Smith
Video: Eldonte Samuel

One retaining wall has already collapsed in Richland Park and the fear is that another will soon follow, potentially injuring or killing people including students who frequent the area.
The trouble for homeowner, Anita John and her husband started in September, 2022 when construction work began on the Montreal Road in Richland Park.

In 2019, the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) signed a contract with Kuwait Dynamics Limited (KDL), for the National Agricultural and Feeder Roads project to rehabilitate roads in a number of communities across the nation, including in the Marriaqua constituency.

The husband told SEARCHLIGHT that work to construct slip drains along the road has compromised the integrity of the property’s retaining wall and he fears that it will be “another Jack’s wall thing”.

He was referring to the incident on September 19, 2008, when a section of the retaining wall which surrounds the property belonging to Alex Jack in Ratho Mill on the Windward Highway collapsed, crushing Patsy Bowman, 67, who was driving past the wall in her vehicle.

The husband said “I can’t get no rest”, adding that the family is fearful that the wall will collapse and injure passers-by. He pointed out that there are three schools, a preschool, primary and secondary school, as well as a clinic in close proximity to the compromised wall.

He said since the issue was reported in early September, 2022 the firm has visited the property four times and no indication has been given as to when the slippage of the wall will be addressed. The cracks in the wall were filled in with concrete by workmen and the family was instructed to report any further slippage.

The John family even went so far as to visit the KDL office twice in December, however, they were unable to secure an audience with representatives of the company.

“I told them it slipping and up to now, nobody ain’t come. It still slipping all now. We never had no problem with the wall until them [contractors] come.”

On the Hopewell Road leading up to Richland Park, home owner, Gwen Jack told SEARCHLIGHT that her property too was compromised by road work being done in the area.

“It was last month, I can’t remember the exact date, but I was home sleeping around 11 and somebody wake me and say look your wall drop in there,” Jack said, adding that the wall collapse has damaged the outer structure as well as a window to the right side of the property.

ROAD CONDITIONS leading to Richland Park

“The man [subcontractor] just come the following day and put up the red tape and that is it. He didn’t say anything.”

Jack said she believes that when workmen excavated the road and left it for months unattended, rainwater “push the wall toward the house”, leading to the collapse.

Wall collapse fears in Richland Park Workmen went to Jack’s residence to repair the wall in mid-January and informed the homeowner that the work should be completed in about a month. However that timeline was missed and a new one has been set for late February.

“I can’t wait to get this wall finish. It was, and still is, very frustrating and the worst part of it is that somebody was responsible to fix that wall and they refuse to do it.”

SEARCHLIGHT was informed by one of the workmen who was formerly assigned to the area, that non-payment by the sub-contractor for services had caused lengthy delays in the work late last year. The workman revealed that up to 30 men had been employed to work in Richland Park, some travelling from as far as Pembroke on the Leeward side, and had not been paid for “two going on three months”.

The workman revealed that many of his colleagues had abandoned the work in December 2022 after they kept getting the runaround by the sub-contractor for the project.

SEARCHLIGHT contacted KDL for comment, but the representative we spoke to declined, saying he was “too busy”.

Minister of Health and Parliamentary Representative for the area, St Clair Prince, shed some light on the issue during an interview with SEARCHLIGHT. He criticized the KDL firm for the continuous delays in the work and damage to properties in the area.

Minister Prince said he had been told that “cash flow” problems was the reason for the slow pace of the work.

“When I asked them (the subcontractor) why the work is going so slowly and why the work is off and on all the time…they said the main contractor (KDL) was not paying them on time, so they can’t pay their workers. When I talk to the main contractor of the KDL they blame the sub-contractor. I am not interested in the sub-contractor because they have no direct obligation to the government, KDL has that.”

Prince said he has been repeatedly asking KDL to “speed up the work”, adding that several issues have been highlighted by homeowners.

“They take too long to remedy some of these problems…. We (government) have complained to the highest authority in Kuwait about this problem,” Prince said.

He disclosed that there are six road rehabilitation projects being undertaken by KDL in Marriaqua and that all of these projects have been experiencing issues.

“All of them have had problems. The Carriere Road project, the Farm/ Macmillan Road, Montreal Road, The Sayers Road project, Richland Park Road, Jumbie Gutter Road Project… all of these are in Marriaqua.”

Minister Prince added that he is most concerned about the project being done on the Richland Park to Montreal Road project, noting that Richland Park is the “busiest road” in the community. He also highlighted health concerns from the increased dust in the area.

“People are coming down with asthma problems…recently there has been some movement on the Richland Park Road.”

On the issue affecting the John family, the minister said he had written to KDL asking that they “rectify it”, adding, “it seems that they have not done as much as the homeowner would like.”

“They haven’t given me any timeline, they haven’t given Mrs. [John] any timeline either. As a matter of fact, they not into giving timelines and even if they give you a timeline, you can’t depend on it,” the MP pointed out.

“My hope is that within the next couple of weeks, they will not only deal with Mr [John’s] problem…they will also deal with the issue of the main road going to Richland Park from what we call Dry River in Hopewell.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Wall collapses killing ‘Skilled tradesman’ (+Video)

[[UPDATED on Saturday, February 11, 2023 at 9:00 am AST to include the fact that SEARCHLIGHT reached out to KDL for comment prior to publication of this story.]]