Work on the Sheriff Street-to-Mandela Avenue road enhancement project is set to commence sometime this month, after years of being delayed by various technicalities.The Public Infrastructure Ministry (MPI) has said a US$31.03 million contract for the project had been awarded to Sinohydro Corporation Ltd back in November 2017, and the contract was signed the following month.The two-year project, which will cover approximately seven kilometres of road, is being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and involves the following works: relocation of utilities, lane and shoulder improvements, placement of sidewalks and paved shoulders, traffic signals, traffic signs, streetlights, drainage, a pedestrian overhead walkway, culverts, bridges, and a roundabout.Residents living close to the road, as well as road users generally and the wider community, may be inconvenienced by traffic delays, dust, and general construction activities during the period of construction, the MPI has cautioned.“The Ministry wishes to emphasise that these impacts will be temporary, and will be constantly monitored to ensure their minimisation. The Ministry advises that persons take all necessary precautions (in negotiating that stretch of road while it is undergoing upgrade),” it added.Coordinator of the MPI’s Works Services Group (WSG), Geoffrey Vaughn, said Last month that the contractor has been mobilising and conducting preliminary works before the project commences.The IDB had, earlier last year, revised the scope of works on this road project, putting it on hold and delaying the opening of tenders for the project. This was done following discussions entered into with the Ministry of Finance aimed at achieving completion of the project before the loan deadline set by the IDB had expired.Initially, Loan-2741 was signed in 2012 to the tune of US$66 million, with a completion deadline of March 2018.The revised scope, which is anticipated to cost US$35 million, would include the relocation of utilities, for which the GTT and the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) have been contracted.The initial project was tendered twice: first in 2014, and then again in 2015, both times under the previous administration. On the second occasion, tenders were returned in May 2015, as none of the contractors was deemed responsive.The Public Infrastructure Ministry said last year that several of the internationally funded projects were unable to get a start in 2016, and the Sheriff Street-to-Mandela Avenue project was one of those that did not get off ground as anticipated.It was explained that Government had decided to have a review of this project with it being nullified twice, once in 2015 and then in 2016.“It was basically sent up for review, which has been completed; and that should be out for tendering at the end of this month, once we receive all the no-objections,” Geoffrey Vaughn of the MPI had noted.The review was conducted by the WSG Design Unit along with the consultant firm Egis, in association with SRK Engineering.
The news rattled Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 147.74, or 1.11 percent, to 13,215.13, giving back five sessions’ worth of gains. It was the biggest point drop in the blue-chip index since a 242-point plunge on March 13. Broader stock indicators also saw their largest one-day point declines since March 13. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 21.11, or 1.40 percent, to 1,491.47, falling back below the 1,500 mark that it surpassed last week for the first time since September 2000. The Nasdaq composite index dipped 42.60, or 1.65 percent, to 2,533.74. Analysts had already expected last month to be weak after an early Easter motivated many consumers to do their holiday shopping in March, siphoning away part of April’s business. But sales were much softer than expected, raising concerns that retailers will also see disappointing results in the months ahead. The UBS-International Council of Shopping Centers sales tally of 53 stores posted a decline of 2.4 percent, the biggest drop since the index started tracking the data back in 1970. The tally is based on same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, which are considered a key indicator of retailers’ health. Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at the ICSC, called the drop in same-store sales a rarity, noting it marked the third time since 1970 that the overall index declined. For the combined March and April period – which provides the best read on the spring selling season – the tally was up only 1.8 percent, below the 2.8 percent forecast. While analysts will be closely watching how May fares, since the month will provide a better indication of consumer outlook, concerns are rising that shoppers can no longer bear the weight of the economy’s woes. “The slowdown is at hand,” said Niemira. He noted that over the past three-month period, same-store sales have averaged a 2 percent growth, exactly half the pace the industry experienced in the same year-ago period. The housing market slump, which had already hurt sales of home-related goods over the past year, seems to be having a greater impact on retail sales. For years, shoppers had tapped into home equity as a source for cash, but rising interest rates have curbed that practice, and rising mortgage defaults may be spooking consumers. Even the job market, which has been a pillar of consumer spending, is showing some signs of strain as the government reported earlier this month that employers added the fewest positions last month in two and a half years. And while the market has hardly collapsed, it appears job seekers will have more difficulty in landing a position. The latest data on unemployment claims, however, was soothing since it showed that the number of laid-off workers filing claims fell for a fourth straight week. Janet Hoffman, managing partner of the North American retail division of the consulting firm Accenture, said stores also are to blame. “The retailers missed on some of the product choices,” said Hoffman noting that much of the fashions reminiscent of mod styles of the 1960s – mini dresses and big geometric patterns – turned off many customers. The good news, however, is that first-quarter profits seem to be intact, with only a handful of merchants, including Abercrombie & Fitch, reducing their profit outlooks Thursday, according to Morris. Most retailers report earnings this month. Wal-Mart reported a 3.5 percent decline in same-store sales. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected a 1.1 percent decrease.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! NEW YORK – What was once a dull pain behind the eyes is threatening to become a full-blown migraine for the nation’s retailers. On Thursday, they reported one of their worst monthly sales performances ever, raising concerns that higher gas prices and a weakening housing market are eating away at consumer spending. Given projections for more housing problems and higher fuel demand during the summer, prospects for retailers seem even dimmer. “Consumers are not feeling quite as healthy from an economic standpoint as they did last year at this time,” said John Morris, managing director at Wachovia Securities. As retailers released their April sales figures, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. recorded a rare drop – the weakest performance since the world’s largest retailer began publishing monthly sales in 1980, according to John Simley, a company spokesman. But April’s disappointments crossed all segments of the industry, striking stores as varied as apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Macy’s operator Federated Department Stores Inc.