Opposition Leader Mia Mottley says the St John Polyclinic, named after the late Prime Minister and the parish’s longstanding parliamentary representative David Thompson, stands out as an example of mismanagement and waste by the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration.
“This St John polyclinic is now the example of the most profligate and awful cost overrun by this Government in the Ministry of Health,” she told the House of Assembly yesterday in leading off debate on the Barbados Labour Party’s motion of no-confidence against the Government.
“A polyclinic that should have cost $13.8 million, through the utter incompetence of the Minister of Health and others, at the time of its opening, went to the sum of $28.6 million,” she said of the polyclinic which is officially named The David Thompson Health and Social Services Complex. It was officially opened last November.
“As we speak, since February, there has been another claim of $1.5 million for that polyclinic, to bring the claim to $30.1 million,” Mottley told the House.
The BLP leader said the waste and massive cost overrun occurred while there was a need for a polyclinic between St James and St Andrew.
Yet, “we are building a polyclinic in St John for twice the sum of what it was originally quoted to be for . . . and we cannot get work and simple things done at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital,” she charged.
“This is why we have brought this motion. There are too many things going wrong. Barbados is not working for the vast majority of Barbadians,” Mottley argued.
Pointing to what she saw as mismanagement that pushed up the cost of the polyclinic, Mottley went on: “The Ministry of Health allowed that project to have been suspended for over nine months, a cost to the taxpayers of over $1.2 million in claims for that suspension for the nine months.”
She said the claims were made by the contractor as compensation for the project delay.
“Why would the Government leave the project suspended for over a year to cause the contractor to have to claim $1.2 million in expenses from the Government?” the Opposition Leader asked.
“Then the Prime Minister intervened, not to have the architect who is the only [person] who can issue certificates, but the quantity surveyor who does valuation to settle a draft final account in 2014, almost one year before the work on the project was completed.”
Mottley contended that Stuart’s directive was in error because construction convention says a draft projected final account should not be discussed before a practical completion certificate was provided and the work was at least 97 per cent completed.
“You cannot settle a draft final account a year before the civil works were completed, because you don’t know what the civil works will bring up. It’s commonsense,” she said.
“A directive was given to settle and discuss the projected final account, approximately
$29 million, setting a figure one year before you open the building, and $16 million more than what the contract allowed for.”
Mottley said that premature draft projected final account “claimed a 17 per cent increase on all rates”. She then asked the following questions: “What has happened in Barbados last year that would occasion a 17 per cent (increase) in labour, in materials, plant and equipment across the board?
“Why would the Government preside over a situation where a mill wall can move from over $660,000 to $1.2 million or the steps and the raft adjacent to the mill wall can move from $22,000 to $550,000?”