Prime Minister Samuel Hinds yesterday turned the sod for the construction of the first US$6 million phase of a state-of-the-art hospital on the northern edge of New Amsterdam at Ordnance, Fort Lands.
The hospital complex which will cover over 18,779.6 square metres of prime land will include one main two-storey administrative building and six surrounding one-flat buildings to be built in two phases.
The first phase will be constructed at a cost of US$6 million under a Japanese grant aid project and will include a laundry, sewing room, kitchen, scullery, canteen, electrical room and eight wards with a total of 114 beds.
According to Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy “within two and one-half years the new hospital will be completed.”
The new hospital will be nestled between the New Amsterdam Technical Institute [NATI] and the Canje Bridge to the north; the National Psychiatric Hospital to the west, St Aloysius Primary School to the immediate east and Berbice High School to the south.
The second phase is expected to cost approximately US$6 million according to a Japanese source but details on this are still sketchy. It will include construction of an outpatient department building, a central clinical department, and an administration department.
The contract has been awarded to a Japanese company Kitana Construction Corporation while equipment for the institution including clinical, laboratory, ward and service equipment will be provided by another Japanese company Nissho Iwai Corporation. Phase 1 commenced in March and will conclude in March 2004. The second phase is scheduled to commence in October and conclude in September 2004.
Speaking at the mid-afternoon ceremony in broiling sunshine under a makeshift tent, Hinds, performing the functions of President expressed his government’s appreciation and that of the people of Guyana to the people and government of Japan for their assistance.
Despite the distance that separates Guyana and Japan, Hinds noted, ties of trade bind the two countries, referring to the latter’s assistance in the electricity sector and in the construction of the new CARICOM Secretariat on the East Coast of Demerara.
Ramsammy in his remarks said the project had been on the books for a long time. An impasse, he noted, had developed as questions arose over a suitable site. The exchange of notes of the project was signed on August 20, 2002 between the Ambassador of Japan and Minister of Foreign Trade and International Co-operation of Guyana Clement Rohee. According to the minister, the project represents government’s efforts over the past 10 years to improve the condition of buildings within the health sector while simultaneously seeking to boost the number and quality of personnel. “However we are still wrestling with the problem of acquiring trained personnel since we are short on quality and quantity but we have made tremendous improvements,” he said.
According to Ramsammy it was realised sometime ago that the rehabilitation of the New Amsterdam hospital would not solve the infrastructural problems of the 119-year-old historical building.
All of the country’s 27 hospitals, he noted, have been either repaired or reconstructed over the past 10 years. “Other hospitals are however to be built including one at Linden and possibly one in Region Nine while reconstruction of the National Psychiatric hospital (a stone’s throw away) is to be completed within another few years as we continue to work towards satisfying the desires of people for quality health care,” he declared.
Representing Japan’s ambassador to Venezuela, Masatero Ito was Yoshiharu Namiki, consul attached to the Caracas mission who spoke briefly at the function. The diplomat expressed the hope that the project would be implemented smoothly and on the principle of safety first. He noted that efforts were put in by people from both countries to make the project a reality.