September 19, 2020

MRCU aircraft facility on track


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Minister inspects generator

The Mosquito Research Control Unit’s multi-purpose facility is on track and is to be completed sometime before the end of the year.

The MRCU’s aircraft facility includes a 12, 402-square foot hangar, a 2,787- square foot custom-built pesticide store and a 1,600 square-foot evaporation basin and car park facility.

The project, which started in 2008, has gone through some hard times including a change of contractor.  Hadsphaltic was awarded the original tender in 2008 but went into liquidation in June 2009. The project was then retendered in August 2010 by the Centre Tenders Committee and a new contract was signed with Edgewater Development on 20 April, 2011 and work commenced 31 May.

Despite the difficulties of completing the project in austere times, Deputy Premier Hon Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Ministry of District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture (DAWL&A) and MRCU have worked diligently to ensure that the project is delivered as promised.

Ms. O’Connor-Connolly said that despite the many struggles, she was pleased that MRCU was getting the much-needed upgrade, which would bring significant improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of mosquito control operations on these islands.

“The new facility will considerably  improve the MRCU’s ability to protect residents from nuisance biting and from mosquito-borne disease and bring  the unit in compliance with the Cayman Islands Civil Aviation. It will also assist in keeping government assets safe during a hurricane,” she explained.

Upon completion, the hangar will be large enough to house both aircrafts, which has not been the case in the past. The hangar is also being built  to hurricane safety standards and includes reinforced hangar doors (70 ft wide), with rubber seals between each door. To reduce the risk of flooding, the building is raised several feet in elevation compared to the previous hangar. It has a built-in fire suppression system using foam retardant. The building includes a workshop for aircraft maintenance, and a secure restricted-access store for aircraft parts. The MRCU facility has a generator, which means that operations can continue after a natural disaster.

The custom-built pesticide store is also built to hurricane standards to protect stock. The store is large enough to hold sufficient quantities of supplies and to store them in a safe and efficient manner.

MRUC Director Dr William Petrie and Ministry experts took the environment into account as well, because the aircraft loading bay incorporates a washing/flushing area which prevents contamination of ground water by pesticide residues and detergent wash-off.

“The wash-off water is directed to an evaporation pan – a holding tank that allows ultra violet radiation from the sun to break down pesticide residuesand evaporation of harmless constituents,”

Dr Petrie explained

He noted that the upgrade in facilities also means that lessons learned from Hurricane Ivan were taken into account.

“Mosquito control services are a vital provision of government operations in the aftermath of a storm, as experienced after Hurricane Ivan when MRCU was able to commence operations within three days of the storm. The hurricane protection measures incorporated into the new facility will protect aircraft, pesticides and equipment, and will go a long way to ensuring we can launch a response in the immediate aftermath of a storm,” he stated.

Dr Petrie thanked the Honourable Minster, Chief Officer Alan Jones, as well as Ministry officials and Public Works staff for their continued support and for seeing the necessity and value of this project to the department and to all residents and visitors to the Cayman Islands. “This support, both in financial terms and in administrative assistance is much appreciated.  Naturally, staff of the Aircraft Section are very keen to move into the new facilities, as there will be considerable improvements in working conditions,  as well as better provision for management organisation and for staff morale.”

Kris Bergstrom, one of the owners of Edgewater Development, said he was proud to have been chosen as the general contractor on this complex project, and of working through the difficulties experienced by government with the original contractor and the challenges of budget constraints.

“We give much credit to the capable team government has chosen to manage this project, from the Head of MRCU, Dr. William Petrie, the Project manager from PWD, Mrs. Niasha Brady and the Quantity Surveyor, Mr. Evans Simiyu.

“With this team, the staff at Edgewater has been able to provide a flexible, budget-driven schedule as well as value engineering on the project. The main structural shell has been completed and we are hopeful that the new budget allows us to complete this project later in 2012,” Mr. Bergstrom stated.

Front page photo: From (left) Debbi Bergstrom, DAWL&A Deputy CO Tristan Hydes, DAWL&A CO Alan Jones, Kris Bergstrom, MRCU Director Dr. William Petrie and EWD Project Manager Richard Purdom.


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