The construction site of Block C at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.

Chairman of the Urban Development of T&T, Noel Garcia yesterday confirmed that despite the hiccups with the Shanghai Construction company, the Central Block at the Port of Spain General Hospital project has not collapsed.

Garcia held a media conference yesterday at the UDeCOTT’s office in Port-of-Spain to address what he deemed to be “mischief” being deliberately placed in the public domain.

Garcia said that there was no firm decision yet on whether the project would go back out to tender.

“The procurement strategy is under active consideration and we have given the client the assurance that that matter of how we go forward with that aspect of the work will be settled by the second week of February,” he said.

Garcia said that there were always discussions and issues between the project manager and the contractor and he was “concerned” that this particular one had made its way into the political arena.

“We have had this issue ongoing for quite a number of months because of COVID. Mainly a lot of the problems emanated from COVID because it disrupted the supply chain, it disrupted the repatriation workers, it disrupted the timeframe,” he said.

“We did our best not to air these things public because it is best that you sit around a table and try and resolve it than to go and allow public opinion to resolve an issue that could be resolved around a table, so yes we are concerned,” he said.

“We are very, very disappointed that in a sensitive negotiation process that people come and cast aspersions, raise issues that are imagined and has the potential to disrupt the flow,” he said.

Senior Project Manager at UDeCOTT Sunil Ramnath yesterday gave an update on the project and said that “prior to the termination”, the project was already at level 4 of a 13 storey structure.

Ramnath said that arrangements are being made to procure the steel and the other materials necessary for completion.

Despite the hiccups caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chain disruptions and now this fallout with the contractor, Garcia is assuring that the project is not stalled.

“The procurement strategy is under active consideration and we have given the client the assurance that that matter of how we go forward with that aspect of the work will be settled by the second week in February,” Garcia said.

“We anticipate that this project should be completed in the second quarter of 2024, which literally is 25 months from now. We are confident that in spite of the challenges of COVID-19, we will complete within that time lime, we anticipate that the steel will arrive at the end of March and that itself had some issues surrounding it,” he said.

Garcia said that with the current supply chain logistics, what normally took six weeks in delivery was now taking 12 to 15 weeks.

Garcia said that at this time, the company is in consultation with Senior Counsel on the legal way to deal with those who sought to create “mischief” by putting falsehoods out on the public domain.

“Some people may say just let it pass, we are not to be so minded because to deliberately distort the facts and to hold up a letter to say that the main contractor was being forced to give a contract to a sub-contractor whose quality of work we have absolutely nothing to do with how the main contractor carries out his work,” Garcia said.

Garcia said that a “politician” waved a document around, claiming that it was proof that the State tried to force Shanghai Construction to hire a sub-contractor.

“In another place yesterday, a member of parliament waved this letter and alleged that in this letter, the contractor complained about a subcontractor,” he said.

Garcia said that he would have the letter circulated through the media to prove that that allegation was a lie.

“You would see that no such matter was raised in any correspondence and UDeCOTT categorically and emphatically deny that allegation,” he said.

“We see that allegation as mischief, intended to sow discord and to bring the company into public odium and we ourselves are now contemplating what action we should take,” he said.