New central block restarted at Port of Spain General Hospital

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO: The old central block of the Port of Spain General Hospital before demolition work began. –

A local contractor has begun demolition of the old central block of the Port of Spain General Hospital, with works so far now a month ahead of schedule, Udecott chairman Noel Garcia updated Newsday on Thursday. The firm replaced Shanghai Construction Group (SCG). Garcia said a new block should be completely built and outfitted by about March 2024.

He said package two consisted of the old block’s demolition and the erection of the shell of a new block. Then, package three will include the construction of walls and the outfitting of the new building.

Garcia said the local contractor has undertaken the “soft” aspect of the demolition of the old block – such as roofing and walls – to be followed by the “hard” demolition of the building’s frame. Previously, SCG had quit part way through the project complaining of US$9 million in extra freight costs (due to global pandemic-linked supply-chain woes) plus costs blamed on bureaucratic delays by a project official. Garcia told Newsday he was now happy with the progress of the local firm.

“A contract was awarded to Universal Steel to erect a 13-storey main block and a four-storey ancillary building.

“Work is going on. I was there this morning. The contractor is slightly ahead of schedule.”

He said work on package two was a month ahead of next March’s due completion date.

“Today the contractor is saying he is ahead of schedule. We were quite satisfied with what we’d seen of the level of efficiency this local contractor is demonstrating and how quickly he is proceeding with the works.

“I was there this morning speaking to the contractor. Demolition works had started. What we call the ‘soft’ part of the demolition. All the roof material has been removed. The ceilings, the windows, and all fixed furniture have been removed.”

Elevators and equipment have also been removed, Garcia added.

“What we now have is just the frame that is up.”

He said the frame was made of steel-reinforced concrete plus concrete floors.

Garcia said the contractor should start demolition of the frame towards month-end.

“He had given a time frame of eight weeks to complete that aspect of the demolition. So we anticipate the demolition should be completed somewhere towards the middle or end of October.”

Garcia spelt out precautions undertaken.

“We have been liaising very closely with the North West Regional Health Authority to ensure the demolition does not disrupt the functioning of hospital and particularly the operating theatre. We have got the EMA’s approval for the demolition.

Garcia said Udecott had recently issued a tender for package three, the encasing and outfitting of the central block. “That tender closes on September 30. So far, I’m told, that a little more than 11 companies have picked up the packages.” Udecott will evaluate these bids, he said, and award a contract.

He said work on package three should begin by about year-end, with package two due to be finished by next February.

Garcia described package three.

“That entails finishing the building – the curtain walls, the various MEP works – which is mechanical, electrical and plumbing works – roof works, civil works, the putting in of the medical-grade floor, and the putting in of furniture.”

It included the installation of air conditioning, the water system, electrical system and elevators.

“That contract should be awarded toward the end of this year and work should start.”

He said package three project should finished by the first quarter of 2024.

“We are extremely optimistic that the local contractors would rise to the occasion and complete the project within time.

“We anticipate that contract should go into the last quarter of 2023. We believe we should finish the building and gave hospital equipment, movable equipment and the ICT by March 2024.”

Garcia concluded, “People sit down and criticise but we have put that aside. We have a job to do. We have an objective – to provide a state-of-the-art hospital for the people of Trinidad and Tobago and we are getting on with the job.”