Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pile Work (33 Piles Complete)

Pile work is well underway on the project. 33 piles have been completed over the past 6 days with three crews up and running (375 piles total).  A fourth crew is due on site any day.  Our aim is to get 8+ piles completed per day, although this may be somewhat optimistic during this rainy season and Ramadan (July 11- Aug 11th: the workers do not eat or drink during daylight hours. Then they take a two week holiday after Ramadan.)

(Line up the Rig above the Concrete/Steel pile points)

(The chisel starts boring)

(They keep adding extra pipe sections to get to depth)

(Once to the desired depth boring stops and they wash the bore hole until the waste water is fairly clean. Depth mark seen in red on the bore pipe.)

(Bending, Tying & Welding the steel cages)

(Placing the steel cage into the borehole)

(Filling the hole with concrete - from bottom to top through this pipe) 

(The site gets desperately muddy - thankfully I picked up a pair of rubber boots in town)

(Working into the night - this bore had a small collapse so they had to re-bore and cast that night to ensure no further failures.)


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ship Breaking

Ever since my first flight over ship breaking when flying from Dhaka to Chittagong I have wanted to check this place out firsthand. Everyone has been telling me, that it was possible to go about 10 years ago, however since a few documentaries showing how bad these places are for the workers and environment no foreigners have really been allowed, to keep the press down.  This past weekend I was looking for a few heavy hydraulics that are only available around the shipbreaking area. I went with a local store owner who deals in the parts I was looking for. This guy also happened to deal in a ship breaking scrap business. After I purchased my hydraulic equipment he took me for a tour of one of the shipbreaking yards. The materials that come off these ships is quite interesting.  There is a part of town that just deals with parts and pieces that are broken and pulled off old ships (lifejackets, lights, furniture, commercial kitchen equipment, canned goods, pressure vessels, pipes, lifeboats, motors, electronics, stainless steel, brass, aluminum, etc).  The major material from the ships is their steel which is used primarily for making rebar for construction projects. The size and quantity of the ships I could see up and down the coast was unbelievable. My guide told me there were around 120 breaking yards in that area.

(Ships all driven onto the beach at high tide)

(All along the coast just North of Chittagong for miles)

(The ship is then cut apart)

(Large chunks are cut off)

(A winch machine pulls the pieces into shore for easier cutting)

(Natural gas and oxygen torches)

(Large propeller being cut down)

(Old hydraulics pulled off the ships)

(Equipment pulled off the ships)

(A Load of lifejackets heading for town)


Monday, July 22, 2013

Layout Checking

The building layout has been finalized for all the pile works. We thoroughly check the layout last Friday with only a few minor adjustments. All the pile points are set with a two foot piece of rebar driven into the ground for centre - encased by a 6" concrete cap to ensure these points are not disturbed during surrounding work. The water tanks are now ready after a couple days of workers digging in the mud. Pile boring is to start first thing in the morning for two crews. The third crew should be ready to start the Wednesday.

(Jon - Checking Pile Levels - with Contractor)

(Holly - Measuring Pile Points - with Consultant)

(Checking Grid Line Measurements)

(Digging Water Tank for Pile Boring  - Surveying Pile Points)

(Pile Boring Rigs Setup On Site)


Homeward Bound (Holly)

I dropped Holly off at the airport yesterday for her three week trip home. I'm sad to see her go, but it's good to keep in touch with our families and supporters to share what is happening in Bangladesh. The work on site has been steadily picking up over the past few weeks so I am sure the time will go by quickly. It's a good thing we have a cook/cleaner, so Holly doesn't have to worry about what I will be eating while she is away or what state the house will be in when she returns (at least not too much).

Holly's first flight from Chittagong to Dubai (flydubai - discount airline) there was close to 200 people on board, she was the only woman. At least they gave her the entire front row (3 seats). Mainly migrant workers from Bangladesh that work in the middle east use this route.

(Chittagong Airport)
(Seeing Holly off - Escalator to Customs/Immigration)


Friday, July 19, 2013

Passports Returned

After more than 8 months we finally have our passports back in hand. Just in time too because in three days (July 21st) I will be heading home to PEI for a few weeks!  We handed over our passports during the first week we were in Bangladesh (November 2012) to apply for extension of our NGO visas.  Apparently, our applications (not our passports) got lost during processing somewhere between Dhaka and Chittagong and we had to start the process from scratch.  We were notified mid May that our visas were extended until June 30, 2013 (the business year end and 45 days away) so we applied for the third time for extension.  Happily, our new visas are valid until June 2014.

I am looking forward to spending time with family and friends and enjoying the beach without sweating in a shalwar kameez.  Jon will meet me mid August in Dubai for a few days before returning to Bangladesh.  We may check out the indoor skiing hill since we missed winter of 2013 or slide through a glass shark tank at Atlantis theme park.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Building Layout

The contractor has arrived on site and started to layout the building this week. This is an exciting step as it means that everything is squared away and we are ready to start the construction work. The building layout method that they use here is quite different to the typical way a survey crew would complete this same work back in Canada.  No survey equipment used, only a tape measure and clear water hose to check levels. They have welded rebar to the surrounding security fence at a set level and have been stringing wires along all the gridlines.   It makes for a bit of a maze to get around the site.

(Setting layout lines - string lines)

The crushed stone and sand have started to arrive from Syhlet (24 hour drive away on the Indian border). They load the trucks to well over twice the allowable limit on PEI (+35 M.ton). This makes it a challenge to keep adequate access roads during the rainy season.

(Material stockpile yard)

The Pile Testing was completed at the end of June.  The results were very positive in that the soil conditions are suitable for the updated structural design. There was less than 1.5mm of net settlement at double the design load.

(Test pile ballast ready for testing)

(The corner was starting to sink a little so I wanted to do my part to pick it up )

(Testing pressure gage)

(27 hours of straight testing)

(below the sandbag pile taking readings)

(Hydraulic Jack with settlement gages)

(After testing - tearing down the sand bag pile)