The $1.1 billion contract for construction of the Port-of-Spain General Hospital Central Block has been described as a first priority for the people of T&T.
The contract, which will see Shanghai Construction Group and China Railway handle aspects of the construction, was officially signed yesterday at the Diplomatic Centre.
“When it is a health challenge, it automatically becomes priority number one,” said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
The Central Block, which is 60 years old, was deemed seismically unsafe in 2009.
The Prime Minister said that last year’s earthquake, which saw portions of the Diplomatic Centre’s roof cracked, served as a great alarm to him that the Central Block of the hospital needed to be addressed.
However, the Prime Minister has admitted that while one issue has been addressed, it does bring along a new burden for this country during a time where the economic climate has not been at its strongest.
“Whatever we do this project has to be funded. The arrangements of that invitation by public tender gives us the breathing space to incur the debt that we are incurring today but it is a debt of the highest priority to build a hospital for the people of T&T as a matter of urgent priority,” said the Prime Minister.
Rowley said, however, that the Government has had to put plans in place to ensure that the payment for the construction is managed effectively so to not stifle the economy.
“When we do this it will be recognised that it is one of the many problems which would have been solved. The burden of discharging our responsibility—lender to the builder—will continue in the years ahead in a manageable way,” said Rowley.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh also stressed the importance of the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.
“That facility serves about 300,000 from Carenage to Barataria and that does not include the working population that comes into the city to work so you could probably add another 200,000 people that come from the working population.
“We need a modern facility,” said Deyalsingh.