Officials visiting the site on Thursday morning

Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has stated that the construction of the new National Hospital on the grounds of the current Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) was not his original intention.

He said this during a press brief and walk-around at the construction site Thursday morning, following a complaint by Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, LU Kun, that constructing on an already existing and operational site is complicated and posed a big problem for the workers.

“This project is one of the most complicated projects … we had to stay open to the public at the same time we had to make the new hospital. So this kind of situation makes this project more difficult to push forward,” he said.

Skerrit said he agreed.

“I agree with you ambassador, I believe we should have had a clear site with no obstructions to build this hospital. I believe I should have imposed myself on the country and take a decision by myself to have created a new site because, sometimes, in a country, people do not appreciate the vision until it has manifested itself, we can see only see things that are physical,” Skerrit said.

He stated that the hospital should have been constructed on a new site and that his vision was to have it constructed in a way that doctors and nurses from the countryside could have easy access to it.

“My vision was to [have] create this hospital, build this hospital on a new site with accommodation for doctors and nurses who come from the country side, who have to be living in the city, and for doctors who are on call because the fact is, doctors who are on call should not be at their homes five miles away from the hospital. They should be on site and if there is an emergency, they walk through the hall and get to the emergency room immediately,” he said.

Skerrit added that his original plan was to transform the existing PMH into a “center of excellence for primary healthcare.”

“So all the primary healthcare mechanisms that we have in the Ministry of Health would have been located here and transformed this into a center of excellence for primary healthcare, but we have gone past that, unfortunately, but we are very pleased with the progress that you (project manager and Chinese Ambassador) have made,” Skerrit stated.

Phase One of the project is three months behind schedule due to numerous issues/complaints of the Chinese workers. The complaints include insufficient storage space to store materials, VAT refund of E.C. $230,000 for the period July 2016- May 2017 not yet receiving authorization, and construction of a temporary medical ward not being constructed as designs have not yet been approved by the government.

Skerrit stated that a meeting will be held at 2:30 pm this Thursday afternoon to discuss these issues and make the necessary decisions to solve them.

“The P.S. (Permanent Secretary) of Health, they are going to have a meeting, the staff needs to meet today at 2:30 pm to address all of the outstanding issues which have been highlighted in this report, and inform me of those being addressed by tomorrow morning. Some of the issues…they are in fact assisting in the delay of the project. So where we have control over the matters, we should address them because the matters that have been pointed out are not impossible matters, but we need to address them,” Skerrit stated.

In light of this, Skerrit has commended the Chinese Ambassador and the Project Manager, Jiang Wei, for the progress that has been made so far.

“I want to again express, on behalf of the government and the people of Dominica my profound gratitude to the government and the People’s Republic of China for their demonstration of true and genuine friendship to Dominica…I have no doubt that history will record China as being one of the best friends of Dominica,” he remarked.