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Work starts on $1b children's hospital

By Sue-Ann Wayow

CONSTRUCTION has begun on the Children's Hospital in Couva, which is projected to cost one billion dollars.

Yesterday Minister of Housing Dr Roodal Moonilal visited the site off the Solomon Hochoy Highway near the Couva interchange.

He was accompanied by chairman of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) Jearlean John, and officials of the Shanghai Construction Group, the company that will build the hospital.

The sod-turning ceremony for the hospital took place on March 1 and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said then work would have begun at the site within one month.

Moonilal said the project, expected to be completed in 2015, will cost $1 billion.

The children's hospital will be able to accommodate 230 beds. It will be outfitted with emergency and surgery departments, a pharmacy, laboratory and helipad to provide helicopter access for emergencies and separate emergency entrances for adults and paediatric patients. A hotel, shopping mall, and a guest house will be developed as a second phase of the project to promote health tourism.

Moonilal told reporters the first major task would be to build access roads, and construction began on a four- lane road that should be completed in a few weeks.

He said, "Financing is in place. The Chinese government is financing the project and they choose the contractor—Shanghai Construction Group. But citizens will get an opportunity to work on the hospital."

Moonilal said, "Previously with government-to-government arrangements, there were no contractual obligations on foreign contractors for local content. We are happy that this contract we are executing with the Chinese government provides for 40 per cent local content. That means $400 million of goods and services will be for Trinidad and Tobago business enterprises and labour."

Moonilal added there will be no cost overruns.

"We are not expanding as we go along...we have a fixed approach to this and it is done through a certain financing arrangement that cannot be changed that way," said Moonilal.

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