Last update: 08-Dec-2013 4:55 am
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Now Rowley has concerns over hospital
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has now lent his voice to that of engineers raising concerns about the $1.5 billion Couva Childrens’ Hospital which is being constructed near an earthquake-prone Central Range fault line. The T&T Guardian understands the Opposition has tabled a question in Parliament calling on Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan to provide information on the project.
Khan, speaking with the T&T Guardian after the formal handover of a US $4 million medical lab yesterday, confirmed that the Opposition Leader had tabled a question in Parliament for him to address concerns about the mega project, which is being constructed by Chinese firm, Shanghai Construction, and is being supervised by the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott.)
Khan said: “Dr Keith Rowley has tabled a question to the Minister of Health requesting a lot of information on the Couva hospital and the seismic studies, etc. I am very glad that you put it the newspapers so all I have to do is read the newspaper for him.” The T&T Guardian, in an exclusive report last month, highlighted concerns raised by engineers and seismologists after it was revealed the hospital was being constructed near the earthquake fault line.
The line, according to the experts, has the potential to cause an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 or above. They had requested a copy of the geo-technical report to review the seismic study to ensure the fault line was considered and appropriate parameters for earthquake resistance was incorporated in the design.
Both Khan and Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, the line minister for Udecott, said the experts’ fears about the building design specifications had been addressed at a meeting last month and they had agreed the hospital should be built at the site. Additionally, they assured the building was being constructed to code.
Khan has indicated at that meeting an oversight committee was formed with officials from the University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Unit, Ministry of Health, Udecott, the geo-technical team and other consultants. Yesterday he said any questions on the project could be directed to that team.
“The team is there, they (engineers) can ask anything of the team. Shanghai Corporation, the geo-technical people, the university people, the Ministry of Health people and Udecott and I think there were some other people who were there,” he added. Khan admitted the team had not met since its formation last month.
“It is up to them to meet. I think at the end of the day maybe they do not want anything. That is why they have not met,” Khan added. Sources indicated that no formal appointments were made to the oversight committee. The committee does not have the authority to call meetings unless advised by the minister. No further consultation or collaboration on the hospital was held as promised by both ministers.
No report released
Udecott yesterday failed to release, as promised, its geo-technical site assessment report on the $1.5 billion hospital site. Last Friday, it published a full-page advertisement in the T&T Guardian, saying it will have the report on Monday and Udecott corporate communications manager, Roxanne Stapleton-Whyms, assured it would be released yesterday. However, up to press time no such report was uploaded to Udecott’s website nor did Stapleton-Whyms issue a release stating when the report will be released.
Calls to her cell phone, as well as Udecott line minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, went unanswered yesterday. Text messages were also sent. However, no replies were received from either Stapleton-Whyms or Moonilal.
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