Thirteen years after fire destroyed the original structure that housed the St Jude Hospital, in Vieux, there is no definitive end in sight and the saga relating to renovation works on the compound is still in limbo.
However, this week, Prime Minister Phillip Pierre disclosed that reconstruction works at the site is due to recommence – as the authorities grapple to seek measures to end this dilemma.
He said in an effort to avoid further setbacks, government will ensure the requisite finance is available before works begin at the site. Last year, PM Pierre stated that government would rather complete works on the original building, than undergo construction works on the new structure.
“The position at the St Jude Hospital is that a committee was formed …and the committee reported that it would have been more prudent to continue work on the original buildings,” the prime minister told reporters, this week.
“Since then, we have engaged (hired) contractors to look at the scope of work needed on the original buildings. We are awaiting the ‘Bill of Quantities’ …and we are going to start work on the original buildings as advised by the committee, where there were no politicians, but an independent committee.”
PM Pierre indicated that government is awaiting a determination of the economic costs to start construction. However, he said, remedial works has begun at the George Odlum Stadium (GOS), the current location of the St Jude Hospital, in order to enhance the present operations and working conditions.
“That is what we are waiting for and that’s why it is taking so much time …there has been too many missteps as far as St Jude is concerned,” he added.
Pierre continued, “We know that the people in the south need a hospital and in fact, some work is being done on the stadium (GOS) to make life a little more bearable. We understand that … and we are saying that very shortly, I’m going to make an announcement on the works.”
In 2011, two years after fire gutted the St Jude Hospital, work was scheduled to begin at the site with the St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project phase. The initial works entailed, demolition and preparatory works on the Surgical Building and on the East and West Wings.
The launch of the St Jude Reconstruction Project was set for September, 2009, while related planning and design work had been ongoing.
The re-roofing works at the site was originally due to last approximately six weeks, as one of the five major components for the overall portfolio of work.
Since then, the St Jude Reconstruction Project has evolved into a game of ‘political football’ and the squabbles has been endless with opposing parties pointing accusatory fingers at each other over the delay in getting the works up-to-speed.
Over that time, successive administrations have been unable to chart a progressive path for renovations at this much needed southern medical facility.
It was anticipated that re-roofing works, would have been completed by the end of March, 2011; as two of the five components of work related to the St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project. The entire project, which in the main comprises renovation works on the original site was expected to be completed before the last quarter of 2011.
However, persistent allegations of financial impropriety and operational mismanagement at the site has not gone done well with the public and other interested groups, as they appeal to the authorities to show slate and get the renovation works in order to complete this long overdue project.
Lately, PM Pierre stressed that the authorities were not rushing to conclusions, since, according to him “I don’t want to pre-empt myself and nor do I want to say anything that can be used to bite me, later.”