The new administration will have to expend a further $790 million on the Ocean View Infectious Diseases Hospital to make it operable. That large sum comes after the previous A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition government spent whopping $1.6 billion to rehabilitate the old facility now dubbed a “shell”.
During his budget speech, Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill told the National Assembly that the facility at Liliendaal was “beautifully painted” but lacking the integral amenities needed for an Infectious Diseases Sanatorium equipped to tackle the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
“A series of problems exist at the facility, including some as basic as sewerage, water supply and electricity,” the Minister explained.
It is due to these deficiencies and the “poor planning” that went into the conceptualisation of the facility that Government is forced to fish out $790 million in addition to the $1.6 billion already spent to operationalize it.
Then Minister of Health, Volda Lawrence, at the commissioning ceremony had told the press that the cost of equipping the facility would be “three times” the construction cost – an estimated $4.8 billion.
“The redeeming feature will be that the facility would be able to cater for 200 patients,” Edghill said. He explained that the new government is attempting to have the deficiencies corrected so that construction could be quickly concluded, to an appropriate standard, whilst equipping the facility with the intention of having it staffed and commissioned by the end of the month.
The contentious deal has faced harsh scrutiny from many as it was one shrouded in secrecy, say except for the construction cost that varied since the initial announcement that it was set at $750 million.
Overtime, the deficiencies in the deal began to unravel, starting with questions as to why APNU+AFC chose to rehabilitate a building they did not own.
It was only recently that the supposed owner of the hotel, Jacob Rambarran demanded that the PPP/C government pay him some $52 million in rental fees owed by the APNU+AFC or he would resume control of the property. The new administration, however, made no move on this, with the Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo stating that he would have a long wait before any monies are paid.
Although APNU+AFC moved to acquire the property, that deal was hampered by the protracted elections and the new administration is yet to say whether they would be continuing along this route.
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