Almost eight weeks after the West Coast Demerara (WCD) access road was discovered to be deteriorating mere months after its official commissioning, the two contractors responsible for the works have completed rehabilitation works.Residents in the Vreed-en-Hoop area, where construction, was ongoing explained that the works were officially completed on Saturday by BK International and Surrey Paving and Aggregate Company Limited.Coordinator/Chief of Works attached to the Public Infrastructure Ministry, Geoffrey Vaughn noted that the Ministry would be looking closely at quality control to ensure that the road met the required standard.Asked if he is concerned about the quality of work done by the contractors,The rehabilitated section of the Vreed-en-Hoop roadVaughn said he was quite satisfied as residents hardly complained of the road not being up to standard. He added that the Ministry will, however, continue to monitor the West Coast roads, and will check with residents to ensure no other section is deteriorating.Guyana Times reported early last month that the companies began drilling holes to surround the sunken area while conducting tests to find out what was the cause.Residents started worrying as the road works began with hardly any reflectors being used in the construction area.In fact, the Police in D Division (West Demerara-East Bank Essequibo) even confirmed the death of a pedestrian in the area.Guyana Times was told that the pedestrian, Rafeek Khan, 46, also known as “Buck Man”, of Plantain Walk, West Bank Demerara succumbed to his injuries on November 15, after he was struck by a motor car while attempting to cross the road from south to north.This newspaper understands that that section of the road began deteriorating as a result of faulty foundation works previously conducted on the newly-commissioned road.A senior Ministry official had made it clear that the contractors were standing the expenses to conduct repairs to the road, under the defect liability clause in the contract.He explained during a telephone interview that the contract has a defect liability period, which means any defects, which develop – in this case over a year’s time – would have to be repaired by the contractors and not the Ministry.The project, which was undertaken to the tune of some $9.7 billion, was only completed this year.
• For full fire coverage vist the Special Section. LOS ANGELES – Despite reassurances from state officials, homeowners in fire-ravaged Southern California might have plenty to worry about when it comes to their home insurance. With damage estimates climbing daily, reaching $1 billion Wednesday, homeowners fear that insurance companies will raise rates or even cancel policies in the wake of the fires. State officials and consumer advocates say that’s not likely, but the scope of the fires and past tussles with insurers make many Californians skeptical. Major insurers are inspecting homes in high-risk areas throughout the West and threatening to cancel coverage if owners don’t clear brush or take other precautions. “Yeah, it’s pretty worrisome. They might start not insuring us, that’s pretty scary,” said Bruce Fowler, a resident of San Diego’s Scripps Ranch neighborhood who was evacuated to Qualcomm Stadium this week. Fowler’s home narrowly es- caped being destroyed in 2003, the last time fires swept Southern California with such ferocity. More then 3,600 homes were destroyed then, and insured losses surpassed $2 billion, according to the Insurance Information Institute. So far, about 1,500 homes have been lost across Southern California due to the fires. The number is expected to rise. Insurers said they have sufficient reserves to pay claims that will likely surpass $1 billion. “Insurance companies are in the business of taking these types of risk,” state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said. “The companies are in great health and have substantial reserves,” he said. Poizner said he has talked to several insurance company chief executives in recent days and been assured they are taking steps to swiftly pay claims. On Wednesday, he declared an insurance state of emergency, allowing out-of-state claims adjustors not licensed in California to come to the state to handle claims. Paul Hopkins, chief executive of Farmers Insurance Group Inc., echoed Poizner’s outlook. “We don’t set our rates or underwriting guidelines based on a single event,” Hopkins said. “We have no desire nor has it been our past policy to start doing mass cancellations.” But the likelihood of companies taking a harder look at underwriting and pricing policies increases with the price tag of the fire, said Donald Light, a senior analyst with Boston-based financial consultant Celent. “The higher the final reckoning, the more likely companies are going to act.” Recent insurance history re- inforces the skeptics’ view. California had to form a special authority to sell earthquake coverage after insurers threatened to leave following the 1994 Northridge earthquake. And after the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes, a number of companies, including Allstate and State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., raised rates, canceled or limited homeowners policies. The companies’ finances rebounded. After largely resolving claims from Hurricane Katrina, State Farm saw profits climb by 65 percent to $5.32 billion in 2006, while Allstate had 2006 profits of $5 billion, nearly triple its 2005 level. Full-year figures for 2007 are not yet available but some companies have seen earnings slip. “I see no way they’re not going to increase premiums,” said Les Brown, a Los Angeles attorney who has sued insurers on behalf of policyholders. “They are going to want to make up for the billions of dollars they will lose or more because of this disaster.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Officials say they’ll be able to reign in rates, pointing out that insurance in California is highly regulated, and authorities aren’t likely to approve any increases in premiums, especially after pushing companies to reduce premiums this year. Also, California remains the nation’s largest market for homeowner insurance – a profitable line of business despite the risks. That didn’t stop Allstate Corp. – the nation’s second-largest property-casualty insurer – from announcing earlier this year that it would no longer underwrite new California homeowner policies, citing risks from wildfires and earthquakes. The company is also seeking a 12 percent rate hike for its existing customers.