Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson recently issued statements via his Facebook page to clarify statements made in an article published on Saturday, August 11, in the Guyana Chronicle newspaper.According to the article titled “Chinese contractor granted permission to import stone”, it states that at least two local contractors have complained of not receiving orders to supply stone for the East Coast of Demerara road widening and improvement project, which is being undertaken locally by CHEC, despite having the capacity to do so.The Minister’s post described the entire article as the result of “the untruthfulness” of the local suppliers who expressed concern as well as poor journalism.”According to a report by the Department of Public Information (DPI), the Minister further expressed his disappointment in light of providing a comment to the reporter prior to the publishing of the article, yet the said article was written without context which he sought to provide through his Facebook post.Given the nature of funding for the project, the Minister said it is essential that delays and cost overruns be avoided hence, the decision to allow the import of stones by the Chinese contractor given the fact that adequate supplies were not available locally.“To finish on schedule, the project required at least 15,000 tonnes per month, at best the suppliers whose product made the specifications were only supplying about 6000 tonnes monthly, additionally the project needs about 250,000 tonnes overall,” Minister Patterson explained.He assured that local stone producers were engaged prior to his permission being granted to the contractor for the stone import.“It must be noted that while there are seven stone producers countrywide, only three had the capability at that time to produce the specified stone; of the three, the largest producer’s stone did not make the specifications (stone specifications do not only have to do with density but also size, moisture content, etc). Interestingly, it was agreed by ALL, based on a recommendation by the stone producers to allow the contractor to import 50,000 tons of stones over a three-month period; this would have allowed the local producers to up their production (if possible) and seek to have their stone meet the required specifications (if possible), it would also allow the contractor to continue working without delay,” Minister Patterson further explained.Currently, contractors are on schedule to complete the expansion project.In an earlier interview, Technical Services Manager at the Public Infrastructure Ministry, Nigel Erskine informed DPI that the extension of the four-lane section from Better Hope to Annandale is now 60 per cent complete. He also said the plan is to complete the four-lane section by the end of the year and proceed with the upgrade of the two lanes from Annandale to Bellfield subsequently.“Ongoing works include the extension of the bridges, construction of drains which is about 90 per cent complete; the construction of 400 metres of revetments at Triumph of which 250 metres have been completed as well as the extension of the culverts to accommodate the four-lane road,” Erskine explained.When completed, the four-lane section will have a median in the centre equipped with streetlights. Sidewalks will be built along populated villages, seven bridges and 12 culverts will be widened, and 11 traffic signals will be installed at busy intersections along the roadway. The approximately eight-inch finished surface will comprise asphaltic concrete and have road safety features including warning signs, road markings and pedestrian crossings.