UWI taps new in­vestor af­ter CHEC drops $70b projects

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS - Tameka Gor­don Busi­ness Re­porter

THE UNIVER­SITY of the West Indies (UWI)says it will be re­con­struct­ing the Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal of the West Indies (UHWI) from its own re­sources and has sourced a new in­vestor to de­liver projects pre­vi­ously pledged by China Har­bour Engi­neer­ing Com­pany (CHEC), which has backed out of the part­ner­ship.

UWI signed an agreement with Amer­i­can firm See­bury last week.

UWI and CHEC signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing in Au­gust 2015 for sev­eral projects val­ued at $60 bil­lion to $70 bil­lion at the Mona cam­pus, the cen­tre­piece of which would have been a trans­for­ma­tion of UHWI, a teach­ing hos­pi­tal.

Plans un­der the broad re­de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme in­cluded the re­con­struc­tion of the hos­pi­tal, ex­pand­ing it from a 500-bed to a mod­ernised 1,000-bed fa­cil­ity; a stu­dent cen­tre with an au­di­to­rium, which would dou­ble as an in­door sports fa­cil­ity; a small ho­tel to re­place the Mona Vis­i­tors’ Lodge; the com­ple­tion of the co­gen­er­a­tion plant; and re­con­struc­tion of Col­lege Com­mons hous­ing for staff.

But one year later, the agreement with CHEC has ex­pired, with none of the projects even

started, Pro­fes­sor Archibald McDon­ald told Gleaner Busi­ness.

UWI will now build the hos­pi­tal it­self over a longer time frame and has en­gaged See­bury

to ful­fil some of the other el­e­ments of the re­de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme for the cam­pus, McDon­ald said.

“We had dis­cus­sions over a long pe­riod of time [with

CHEC]. My un­der­stand­ing is that they needed sign- off from gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in China, but it ap­pears they did not get that ap­proval,” he said. “It’s been dif­fi­cult, but we are press­ing on.”

See­bury will in­stall LED lights across the cam­pus be­fore tak­ing on the sec­ond phase of the en­ergy pro­ject — in­stalling the en­gine in the co­gen­er­a­tion plant. It will also build the stu­dent cen­tre.

Re­con­struc­tion of the hos­pi­tal should be­gin “in the first part of 2017,” said McDon­ald.

“We are do­ing that out of our own re­sources,” he said of the fund­ing for the hos­pi­tal.

Essen­tially, the UHWI will end up with a hos­pi­tal, he said.

“The cost will re­main the same but spread over a longer pe­riod of time. It will be over a num­ber of years and maybe in five phases. CHEC would have com­pleted it in a year or two, but it will take us a much longer time,” he said.

UWI is still in talks with po­ten­tial in­vestors in Ja­maica and over­seas for the small ho­tel.

“We have noth­ing for that one yet, but it is still on the ta­ble,” McDon­ald said.

As for the other projects un­der way at UWI, Mona, the plan to wean the univer­sity off the Na­tional Wa­ter Com­mis­sion (NWC) has been re­alised with the two wells, drilled by North Star De­vel­op­ment in the hills

be­hind Col­lege Com­mons, set to be com­mis­sioned in De­cem­ber.

With a 500,000-gal­lon-per­day wa­ter con­sump­tion rate, the Mona cam­pus has, for some time, been ex­plor­ing op­tions to rid it­self of the hefty bills it gets from the NWC.

North Star struck wa­ter at 850 feet. The wells pro­duce 750,000 gal­lons per day, far ex­ceed­ing the needs of cam­pus.

Irvine Hall was de­mol­ished last week to make room for the new hall being built by 138 Stu­dent Liv­ing Ja­maica’s sub­sidiary com­pany, 138 SL Restora­tion. The new hall to be built will ac­com­mo­date 1,100 stu­dents, up from 200. The ini­tial plan had been to add 600 rooms.

The agreement will see 138 SL Restora­tion spending some $2 bil­lion to fi­nance the pro­ject un­der a 30-year con­ces­sion agreement with the univer­sity to fi­nance, build, and op­er­ate the res­i­den­tial hall.

A section of the pae­di­atric de­pa­trt­ment of the Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal of the West Indies.

Pro­fes­sor Archibald McDon­ald, prin­ci­pal of UWI, Mona.

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