Not asking for too much

Not asking for too much

Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Omar Ottley (see Wednesday paper) witnessed the concrete pouring for sections four and five of the foundation that is to support the future St. Maarten General Hospital (SMGH). He said it took place only three days later than recently predicted.
The minister also mentioned mandatory quarterly meetings with stakeholders and setting deadlines. The final pour is expected for the last week of July.
While this is somewhat reassuring, it does not answer all the questions raised by a press release of St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) published in the Thursday, May 12, edition. They said construction activities on the adjacent project had slowed down due to international developments with delays in purchasing and shipping materials plus steep increases in their cost.
But this is not just a matter of falling behind original schedules. According to SMMC, “These challenges make it unrealistic to build the hospital at the original price and by the original due date.”
As pointed out in this column at the time, exceeding terms and budgets is certainly not uncommon in these types of large and complex ventures. Recent examples include both Curaçao’s “Hospital Nobo Otrobanda” (HNO) and Aruba’s Horacio Oduber Hospital (HOH).
Present extraordinary circumstances indeed appear to justify adjustments for SMGH. However, because it involves what can be considered public funds, a current estimate of the additional amount of time and money completing the project will take is not asking for too much.

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