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No comment now - McKenzie to update public on hotel collapse after investigation is done

Published:Sunday | May 15, 2016 | 5:00 AM
City engineer at the KSCA Norman Shand carries out a compressive strength test on a column at the Royalton Negril Hotel at Rutland Point in Negril, Hanover. At left is Minister of Local Government, Desmond McKenzie, while other members of the touring party look on.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie has promised that when the investigation he ordered into the collapse of a section of the Royalton Negril building at Rutland Point in Hanover is done, he will be able to give a full report to the public.

McKenzie made the vow during an inspection of the Royalton Negril construction site last Friday.

Accompanied by city engineer at the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation, Norman Shand, and other members of the investigative team, Mayor of Lucea Wynter McIntosh, Daniel Diaz, deputy managing director of Blue Diamond Hotels and Resorts, McKenzie toured the site where the lobby section collapsed last Tuesday.

"It is difficult to give an impression," said McKenzie following the tour.

"Remember, the (investigative) committee was established a couple of days ago. This is actually their second full day on the site. We are using technology to assist in assessing what had taken place. Based on what I have seen so far, I believe some efforts are being made to ensure that the team is given full access to the facility and to carry out the tests that are required.

"The mayor, myself and the technical team of the parish council, along with the extended team that was established by the prime minister, will meet after this and will review some of the interim reports or suggestions that the technical team has made.

"I am not prepared to speak on any aspect of the interim report that has been given. It would be fair to wait until the assessment has been done in totality and then we speak to what is the way forward," added McKenzie.

Several tests of the structures were conducted during the tour, including compressive tests of the columns to ascertain if their strength, in relation to their designs, was adequate. Some sections of the buildings had blocks and steel protruding beyond the four-storey limit, contrary to the new Negril Development Order.

 

STOP ORDER IN FORCE

 

McKenzie said the 30-day stop order on the construction, which he imposed on the day of the incident, remains in force.

"As I have said before, the team has seven days to come up with their findings. Remember, the prime minister has extended the team to look at all major hotel constructions on the north coast, so it means that the work has just started here," said McKenzie.

"But I am comfortable with the support that the technical staff has been getting and I am hoping that in short order, we will be in a better position to say something definite to the public on this matter."

In the meantime, Diaz said he was not sure by how much the stop order would delay the completion of the construction of the 573-room hotel.

Work on the property started in February and the hotel was slated to open in December.

"It will depend on what the outcome is, but we are confident that with the commitment of everyone, we will be able to meet the deadlines that we have," said Diaz, whose company is developing the property.

The former 210-suite Grand Lido hotel which was located at the property was demolished to make way for the US$150 million Royalton Negril, after the current owners Blue Diamond Hotel Group bought the property from Village Resorts Limited.

claudia.gardner@gleanerjm.com