Ottley not satisfied with pace of new hospital construction

Ottley not satisfied with pace  of new hospital construction

The construction site of the St. Maarten General Hospital in Cay Hill.

CAY HILL--Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Omar Ottley said on Wednesday that he is not satisfied with the pace of construction of the new St. Maarten General Hospital and he will not be satisfied until there are 100 workers on the project.

He made the comments in response to a question during the live Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday.

Ottley said in his opening remarks at the briefing that he has a walkthrough scheduled at St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) next week to get full updates on the general hospital construction, the latest steps, as well as the plans.

He was asked if he was satisfied with the pace of construction. “No. I am not satisfied. I’ve stated it over and under numerous times. I am not satisfied, but, however, I am working with the hand I was dealt. There were a lot of contractual agreements and a lot of intricacies that took place before my time, but I am here now, so what I did is basically do the best with what I received,” stated Ottley.

“The amendment to the contract has been signed. Now, there are some technical aspects that are being handled as far as designs and who will take care of what. I gave a strict deadline of a month. The month is over, hence the meeting. It will not just be a walkthrough, but it will be a follow-up on the progress. But I am not satisfied. I will never be satisfied until I see 100 workmen on that site going full force.”

He continued: “We have created ways in the ministry’s rapid permit procedures, that would help expedite permits and expedite projects of national interest. I must say the airport has taken full advantage of this, but the airport received this full cooperation from the ministry because they have done what they needed to do by exhausting all means to hire locally. Until FINSO does this, we will be a bit reluctant to grant these permits, because I need to know that you are exhausting your means to hire locally. It’s a lot that we have to take into consideration,” he added.

The meeting and walkthrough next week is one of the general meetings that is held with the minister.

Ottley said it is a quarterly meeting where he sets deadlines. “After this meeting, I will be able to give you set deadlines on the next pour and how we expect to see an increase. I must state though, for the record, that since the signing of the fourth amendment, I received the list of workers. At one point, we had 15 workers and now we are at 43. Still not happy until I get 100, but I received the whole detailed list of 43, so we have seen an increase since then, but I look forward to seeing more progress,” the VSA minister noted.

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