Last update: 06-Dec-2013 1:00 am
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Issues persist with Couva hospital
A publicity stunt. This is how structural engineers and seismologists have described their meeting last Friday with Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan and Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, where they raised concerns over the location of the $1.5 billion Couva children’s hospital. The engineers contended yesterday their concerns were not sufficiently addressed at Friday’s meeting. However Khan, via text message, defended Friday’s meeting. He said: “We have placed a committee of seismologists, Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott), health, engineers and HKS architects, so their comments are unfounded and inaccurate. “We have done what was needed and they can get everything to comment on from the committee. So it is unfair to say that our good action was a publicity stunt.“We did not invite much media and we did not have any press conference.”
A week ago, the T&T Guardian highlighted the engineers’ and seismologists’ concerns in an exclusive report, after it was revealed that the hospital was being constructed near the Central Range earthquake fault line. The fault line, experts contend, has the potential to deliver an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 or above. But following the meeting on Friday, both Khan and Moonilal had contended that the experts’ fears about the building design specifications were addressed and they had agreed the hospital should be built at the site. However, the T&T Guardian understands that an emergency meeting with the engineers, members of the seismological and geo-sciences community was convened in Port-of-Spain yesterday to address their continued concerns over the hospital. The engineers said after yesterday’s meeting they would put their concerns in a formal document to be sent to Khan. Yesterday, engineers, who requested anonymity, contended that Friday’s meeting left them with more questions than answers about the design specifications of the project and the site.
This was also in direct conflict with a Udecott media release yesterday which hailed last week’s meeting, held at the Ministry of Housing, Port-of-Spain, as a success. Yesterday, Udecott, in its release, said: “Fears regarding the stability of the proposed Couva children’s hospital were put to rest in the wake of Friday’s meeting.” The engineers, however, dismissed this statement. One said: “Our fears have not been put to rest. They failed to produce the geotechnical engineering report and they failed to conduct a specific risk analysis/probabilistic report which is prerequisite for the design parameters of a building of this nature.” The engineers yesterday called on Khan to establish an oversight committee to ensure that the design parameters for the hospital were in keeping with highest international standards and best practices.
Khan, via text message, said he had no problem establishing an oversight committee. The engineers are also calling for the Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) for the hospital to be made public. Yesterday, Udecott’s release said Latchman, and her team noted that a “comprehensive geotechnical investigation was conducted by a highly respected and independent company and its report resulted from reconnaissance surveys, detailed topographic surveys, 15 boreholes, nine test pits and a rigorous laboratory testing.” Contacted yesterday, Latchman said: “My fears were not totally put to rest.”
However, she said she did not want the issue to become a “media football.
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