Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Damian Graham | Gov't Oval - by Jamaicans, for Jamaicans

Published:Friday | June 16, 2017 | 6:00 AM

Local experts affiliated with the construction industry will have an opportunity to contribute to the planning and development of the new Government Oval to be constructed at the National Heroes Circle.

It is important that this is understood.

Jamaican architects, urban planners, engineers, landscape architects, etc, in the appropriate time, will all have equal opportunity to either submit tenders, express their opinion on design and layout, or volunteer their skill to this landmark project.

Too many inaccuracies have been purported in the media landscape with regard to the level of involvement by our local experts, and so the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) remains committed and available to continue the dialogue with our professional colleagues.

The Government of Jamaica signed a non-binding MOU with China Construction America-South America Division (CCASA) in March. The MOU provides for the UDC and CCASA to collaborate in relation to the preliminary phase of the Government Oval project. This will include the creation of a development proposal, and the sharing of knowledge, technical resources, and information with a view to the development of the project.

 

Critical role to play

 

Both the UDC and the Office of the Prime Minister have repeatedly emphasised that local experts will be contracted and consulted on this project. They will play a critical role in the overall success of the project. However, the Government of Jamaica's procurement policy guidelines will be used to ensure full transparency and inclusion of competent local and international bidders to develop the detailed designs. Some of the steps being taken at this phase to involve local experts include:

The UDC has received approval, from the Ministry of Finance to begin the recruitment of local technical experts to augment the team at the UDC.

A request for proposal (RFP) has been sent to local consulting firms, and we expect to shortlist candidates in the next three weeks.

The UDC has extended an invitation to the local bodies representing the architects and engineers to submit the names of persons to be included in a fellowship, where they will augment the team at the UDC.

Through the MOU with CCASA, the UDC's technical capacity will be enhanced as it carries out the role of project manager and technical adviser during the concept design phase. Thereafter, the programme packages and preliminary budget will be available for Phase Two, which will involve procurement of contracts for detailed designs of the concepts developed. Phase Three of the project will involve the procurement of contract services under a public-private partnership arrangement to carry out the building and financing of the various packages. The funding aspect of phases two and three are currently being developed and will include, but not be limited to, use of current GOJ building rentals, Jamaica diaspora contribution, local crowdfunding, and other novel approaches.

It is of interest to note that the deliberations about building a new parliamentary house for the Government of Jamaica pre-dates the country's Independence from the George VI Memorial Park Act of 1956, which identified the National Heroes Circle as the location. The vision for this complex is to be a national monument that not only houses the new parliamentary building and government ministries and agencies, but will be adorned by green spaces and recreational parks that symbolise good governance and prosperity.

The project represents a watershed moment in Jamaican history of architecture and urban development. The designed and built space will reflect Jamaican culture, values, and identity in the monuments that will be created for generations to come. The UDC invites everyone to pledge their time, talent, and treasure to work diligently so that through this project, we can advance the welfare of our Jamaican people.

- Damian Graham is general manager of the Urban Development Corporation. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.