A local architect has called for more disclosure on the St. Jude Reconstruction Project, describing its management under the current administration as a national shame.
Mark Hennecart, director of Interisland Architects and Planners Limited, made the remarks at a recently held town hall meeting in Vieux Fort, organized by the National Pride Movement in collaboration with the Vieux Fort Concerned Citizens Coalition for Change (VFCCCC).
Dwelling on the cost and design of the project, which has become a contentious issue, he said: “In a project like St. Jude, had it been a brand new project it could of cost far less from a professional fee standpoint…”
He added that this is because if you are going to rehabilitate St. Jude, you need to get a team of persons to go inside the building and measure what’s in place, assess the damage and determine what can be salvaged.
According to Hennecart, who has worked on a number of mega projects, both locally and regionally, a predesigned survey has to be done on the hospital to ascertain exactly what can be used, as opposed to if you had a “clean slate” – a brand new site, adding that the pre design comes at a cost.
“In a project like St. Jude, it can easily cost you between 15-18% of the cost of construction to deliver all the services required by professionals to get you a set of design drawings, supervise the construction, commissioning and handing over a project of that size, “Hennecart explained.
He expressed some concern as it relates to the dispensing of funds on the project.
“A lot of information was thrown out there, but no one told us how those large sums of monies were allocated…” Hennecart said.
“Depending on what type of contract you may employ for a project of that nature, it is easy to understand that for the main contractor to keep his project on track without delays, he will want to be the one responsible for the disbursement of finance to any sub contractor….” he said.
“So it is not unusual for him to receive payments for and on behalf of a subcontractor.., “Hennecart added.
According to him, when one hears of a contractor receiving an undisclosed amount, whether it was going to a subcontractor in all, or in part, it leaves one to ask questions.
He said equipping a hospital like St. Jude, which requires specialized equipment takes time and may require some sort of contractual arrangement with the seller.
“Once it is built, it can take years to have all the equipment into it, only because it is not available, and the equipment are so sensitive that the person who is selling it to you wants a contract to supply, install, commission and maintain for sometime…for as many as 5-10 years, “ Hennecart said.
“Once you can’t come up with that you’re not going to get it,” he added.
Hennecart has made an appeal to the Government to start commissioning part of the George Odlum Stadium and part of the St. Jude Hospital to allow the transfer to start.