Shanghai Construction has been awarded a billion-dollar contract to build the Port-of-Spain General Hospital’s new central block and the two-year project is expected to begin in September.
St James Medical Complex will also become the St James General Hospital following a $5m upgrade.
Acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh announced both developments at Thursday’s post-Cabinet media briefing.
Plans had been in place to replace the seismically-challenged central block since early last year, but this was expedited following the 6.1 magnitude earthquake last August.
Imbert said Cabinet had approved the award of a contract for Shanghai Construction to build the new block.
Of two bidders for the project, he said the Chinese firm’s bid at $1b was $600m less than the other bid which came from Bouygues Batiment, a French company. Shanghai scored 234 out of 300 points, he added.
Deyalsingh said work towards the construction of the central block is in two phases.
The first part began last September with demolition work of buildings on the location.
This ends in September when construction of the new block—which will hold 540 beds—begins. Completion of the central block may take about 24 to 30 months, Deyalsingh estimated. The Government will finance the project by loan financing.
On Opposition criticisms that the cost of projects done by Chinese firms tended to escalate over time, Imbert said Shanghai was the same company which built the Children’s Hospital for the past People’s Partnership administration and several other projects done by the firm did not sustain price escalations.
Work will also be done on the St James Medical Complex, to expand beds to 88 and add 24/7 hour labs and other facilities. The $53m upgrade will be done by China Railway.
Deyalsingh said jobs for medical personnel will be opening up soon as a result of new medical facilities—Arima, Point Fortin and other hospitals—coming on stream.
Deyalsingh also praised the response by Mt Hope Medical Centre’s accident and emergency unit concerning Tuesday’s horrific accident on the Uriah Butler Highway where a Blue Waters truck crossed the median and slammed into a PTSC bus killing two and injuring 48 others.
He said the North Regional Health Authority had started upgrading such services since last August and the hospital was able to deal well with Tuesday’s emergency.