'Onerous' Gov't guidelines delay CRH project

'Onerous' Gov't guidelines delay CRH project

Observer writer

Friday, December 13, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Head of the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) rehabilitation project oversight committee Professor Archibald McDonald has bemoaned the onerous government procurement guideline process, which he said has resulted in delays in the $4-billion project.

Providing an update on the project at Grand-A-View Restaurant and Event Place in St James yesterday, Professor McDonald stated that the project has three phases.

However, he said the third phase, which includes most of the construction work, is the sticking point for the Government. According to Professor McDonald, the contractor for that phase of the project has not yet been engaged.

“I am not afraid to say it, that the procurement guidelines of the Government of Jamaica... are onerous, and they are based on trust deficit. There need to be some guidelines, but those guidelines are onerous,” Professor McDonald said.

“Our task is to ensure that the people who are doing the project conform and align themselves with the Government procurement guidelines, and let me assure you that they are doing that. They are not breaching the Government guidelines. They are being very careful about that, but the cost of that is delay,” he continued.

“So, we are going through the tedious process now of engaging a contractor for that phase three, and once that contractor is on board, that is when you will see what the public wants to see, and what the hospital staff wants to see, rightly so — that is visible work going on,” assured Professor McDonald.

The project oversight committee head noted that under phase one of the project, work on the roof of the 10th floor has been completed, while the interior walls are being demolished and a contractor engaged for phase two.

He said, too, that a new hospital building is out of the picture considering that the structure is sound and that it would cost approximately $30 billion to construct a new building.

The entire building, Professor McDonald said, is porous and the main challenge facing the team is ensuring that it is dry as part of addressing air quality issues caused by mould.

When the Jamaica Observer raised questions about possible cost overrun due to the delays and the setting of new completion dates, Professor McDonald stated that while it is difficult to definitively say, based on the nature of the work, he is hopeful the rehabilitation project does not pass the $4- billion mark.

“Those of you who remember where we started, I think we started somewhere in the region of 42.5 billion and you see where it is now. I really do not believe, and it is my hope that the project does not significantly exceed $4 billion. I think it is going to end up somewhere between $3.8 to 4 billion. And that is based on my observations,” he said.

Professor McDonald said work on the building is expected to be completed by the end of the fourth quarter of 2020.

Work on the CRH started over two years ago, to address what staff members referred to as noxious fumes emanating from a section of the building.

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