- St Jude reconstruction resumes … in STEP practices
- No public availability of drawings, costing, budget allocation and financing
- ‘I’m not going to give the end date’… but hopefully ….
By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – The government of Saint Lucia resumed reconstruction of St Jude hospital on November 1, 2022, after six years of inactivity, albeit, in the notable fashion of the Short Term Employment Programme (STEP) ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays.
STEP was re-instated by the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration, immediately after the 2011 general elections and is administered in five cycles, as a means to short-term employment projects.
In the 2022/23 budget, EC$1.5 million was allocated for remedial works on the George Odlum Stadium, to address some of the more urgent concerns at the hospital.
In September, prime minister Philip Pierre announced that external work on the original St Jude hospital construction site, which was abandoned in 2016, will resume in November.
“ An independent technical committee, appointed last August, was tasked with assessing both phases of the St Jude Hospital Construction project. The committee’s report concluded that construction on Phase I, the original construction site, could have been completed as early as 2017, ”he further advised.
Monday, October 31, 2022, the office of the prime minister in a video production, declared:
“Work is going to start at St Jude [tomorrow] November 1, 2022 … and I’m delighted, said prime minister Philip Pierre. “It’s one of the best days of my life. So the first things you have to do, you have to prepare, you have to clean the sites.”
Prime minister Pierre asked the question: “Have you been to St Jude?”
He re-joined: “Somebody, somebody will have to pay for allowing buildings that were certified, not by us [certified] by their own audits that the buildings were fit for purpose and they could be converted into a hospital with some changes.”
In an article published September 10, 2022, Caribbean News Global, (CNG) noted:
“ The Pierre led-administration must differentiate itself from the historical chronology of “shame, intellectual gangsters, corruption” and in theory, access to the “Special Prosecutor to institute both civil and criminal proceedings against any public official who may have engaged in acts of malfeasance and/or is suspected of misappropriating state resources and assets for personal gain,” is fair game.
Alluding to transparency and accountability prime minister Pierre continued:
“You left it for six years or five years after you started it, and allowed bush and debris and you started something that is nowhere near completion.”
The prime minister reiterated: “We’re going to show the public of Saint Lucia – we’re going to go back to the original site”, and emphasised: “We are starting tomorrow,” November 1, 2022.
Most notable for construction of this magnitude, size, scope, level of expenditure and medical technology, are technical matters that require a degree of sophistication and logistics – was left to the feeling or inspiring optimism about a future event – hopefully!
“ I’m not going to give the end date, but hopefully, the people of the south will be out of the desperate situation at the stadium. “You have my word for it”, affirmed prime minister Pierre.
The prime minister’s announcement: “ I’m not going to give the end date” hitherto “ has again aroused renewed concerns among construction professionals about – the public unavailability of drawings, costing, budget allocation and financing.
According to the OPM audio release:
“The former United Workers Party (UWP) administration halted construction in 2016. Subsequently, technical audits and reviews on the St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Construction Project, (SJHRP) including XCD 900,000 audit commissioned by the former administration, concluded construction work was nearly 80 percent completed when the project was arbitrarily stopped.”
“An independent technical committee, appointed last August, was tasked with assessing both phases of St Jude hospital construction project. The committee’s report concluded construction on phase I [the original construction site] could have been completed as early as 2017. Guided by the recommendations from multiple technical audits and reviews on St Jude hospital construction project, prime minister Pierre has honoured his commitment to Saint Lucia and has actioned the most prudent, safest and immediate option to deliver the St Jude hospital to the people of Saint Lucia,” said the OPM.
A further extract from the article St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project: 13 years of an ongoing national disgrace, reads;
“There is no old and new St Jude hospital,” remarked an architect, “It’s simply St Jude hospital,” noting that “the buildings are on the property of St Jude hospital and owned by the government of St Lucia, and not any politician. Thus the government needs to get to work and complete St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project (SJHSP) .”
The architect continued:
“There are signs that the SLP administration is seen heading in the same reverse operational order as previous administrations. There are concerns to date, with the non-presentation of various architect drawings, costing/budget and a management/consultant team of repute to execute the project.
“Moreover, this must be executed externally, from the management/direction of politicians with little knowledge of hospital construction, negotiation and/or procurement, etc, except for daily political footnotes.”
Since 2009 SJHRP has become a political affair that has resulted in confusion, obscurity, and doom. Most notable by the lack of construction fundamental; the alignment of political loyalists and high agents of the ruling administration in office.
The plan and strategy for commissioning the SJHRP and decommissioning the George Oldum Stadium, (since 2009, used as a hospital) should have ended, a long time ago.
However, the incompetence and ethos of multiple administrations have led to the continuance of politicians to lead construction projects, SJHRP is misguided and again heading in the wrong direction by global standards.
The results are evident – no available schedule (s) of the SJHRP; no public availability of drawings, costing, budget allocation, construction management company/contractors and financing!
“Today work officially recommenced on St Jude hospital. We did not take this decision to finish the original St Jude hospital lightly,” said prime minister Pierre on his Facebook page. “We listened to the experts and are confident that we can construct a patient-friendly, fully functional hospital to serve the people of Saint Lucia, particularly the people of the south of the island.”
Prime minister Pierre’s Facebook post continued:
“Several government agencies are collaborating to ensure that this project is completed within the shortest possible timeframe and to oversee the spending of taxpayers’ money; there has been too much wastage and people must be held accountable.
“look forward to opening this much needed hospital to serve the people of Saint Lucia,” #PhilipCares.