Sun | Aug 20, 2017

J'cans will be involved in building of parliamentary complex - PM

Published:Saturday | March 18, 2017 | 3:00 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has responded to concerns from Jamaican architects, assuring that local skills will be involved in the Chinese-led construction of the new parliamentary complex at Heroes Circle in downtown Kingston.

The complex will include a new parliamentary building to replace the one on Duke Street.

Noting that the building was more than just a meeting place, but "an expression of our Independence and a symbol of our democracy and national pride", in a column in the Gleaner yesterday, the College of Fellows of the Jamaica Institute of Architects charged that the Holness administration was "bypassing the inputs and interests of Jamaicans".

"It speaks volumes that the Government of Jamaica would consider handing the design and construction of the nation's parliament building to an overseas construction company (China Construction Company of America)," the organisation stated.

 

ESSENTIAL TO PROJECT

 

In response, the prime minister did not speak specifically to the parliamentary building, but noted that "purposeful efforts will be made to include Jamaicans in the design and execution of the project" because "this was always the intention of the Government".

That was a reiteration of statements he made at the signing of a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on March 9 between Jamaica and the company, where he said local expertise would be essential to the project.

Yesterday, a source within the Office of the Prime Minister questioned why the architects claimed the MoU was an insult to Jamaican taxpayers when the non-binding agreement meant no government funding was involved.

 

UNBELIEVABLE

 

Ann Hodges, a member of the College of Fellows, said she believed the institute, if approached, would have

supported a competition among local players to select "much more interesting and diverse" designs.

"It's unbelievable anyone would consider having the Chinese contractors and architects designing such a building," she stated.

The Government, through

the Urban Development Corporation, signed the MoU for phase one of the project, which will see the Chinese company providing consultancy services for the design concept for the new parliament building and the proposed 'government offices oval zone' project.

Under the proposed plan, the design is to accommodate a complex for a new parliament building on 50 acres of land, as well as the use of 240 acres to construct several buildings for government ministries, agencies and departments.