Mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar sewage sys­tems de­layed

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Na­dine.wil­son@glean­erjm.com

A $380-MIL­LION project aimed at us­ing anaer­o­bic di­ges­tion tech­nol­ogy to con­struct sewage-treat­ment plants at six pub­lic-health fa­cil­i­ties across the is­land is cur­rently be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the Min­istry of Health, as the project has been dor­mant for more than one year.

The project was launched in mid-2014 in part­ner­ship with the Min­istry of Science, Tech­nol­ogy, En­ergy and Min­ing through the Sci­en­tific Re­search Coun­cil (SRC).

The fa­cil­i­ties iden­ti­fied for the project at the time were Fel­low­ship Health Cen­tre in Port­land; Sa­vanna-la-Mar Hospi­tal, West­more­land; Noel Holmes Hospi­tal and Lucea Health De­part­ment, Hanover; Ul­ster Spring Health Cen­tre, Trelawny; Princess Mar­garet Hospi­tal, St Thomas; and Percy Junor Hospi­tal in Claren­don.

How­ever, a re­cent re­port com­piled by the Na­tional Health Fund (NHF), which funded the project, has high­lighted it as one of sev­eral that have ex­pe­ri­enced im­ple­men­ta­tion is­sues that have re­sulted in cost over­runs.

A com­mit­tee was put in place re­cently by Health Min­is­ter Dr Christo­pher Tufton to probe th­ese projects.

COM­PLETED PROJECTS

The project to im­prove the sewage sys­tems at the health fa­cil­i­ties was ap­proved from as early as 2011, with an ex­pected com­ple­tion date of Jan­uary 2016. But de­spite the dis­burse­ment of $324 mil­lion so far, the NHF noted that sewage sys­tem up­grades have been com­pleted at only the Percy Junor Hospi­tal and the Fel­low­ship and Ul­ster Spring health cen­tres.

The Sun­day Gleaner was in­formed that while sec­tions of the Sa­vanna-la-Mar and the Noel Holmes hos­pi­tals have been ex­ca­vated in prepa­ra­tion for the sewage up­grade, there has not been much work done at the fa­cil­i­ties in re­cent time.

When con­tacted, Dr Al­fred Dawes, who was ap­pointed as the se­nior med­i­cal of­fi­cer at the Sa­vanna-la-Mar Hospi­tal ear­lier this year, con­firmed that the sewage up­grade is yet to be com­pleted at the fa­cil­ity.

“It is some­thing that I have noted has been in the pipe­line ap­par­ently for some time now, and it is one of those projects that we would ur­gently need to ad­dress, be­cause of the po­ten­tial prob­lems if we have a back-up of sewage,” said Dawes.

The Sa­vanna-la-Mar project was touted by then health min­is­ter Dr Fen­ton Fer­gu­son as be­ing one of the largest sewage-treat­ment projects in the health sec­tor by any govern­ment.

The biodi­gester sep­tic tanks, which were to be a fea­ture of the up­graded sewage plants, were de­vel­oped and patented by sci­en­tists at the SRC.

FILE

The area which was des­ig­nated for the up­graded sewage sys­tem at the Sa­vanna-la-Mar Hospi­tal.

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