Fri | Sep 22, 2017

J'cans could get paid for work on Parliament building - UDC

Published:Thursday | April 27, 2017 | 4:00 AMJovan Johnson

Jamaican professionals who have claimed that their services to help construct a new Parliament building could be used on a voluntary basis will have the chance to bid for government contracts at later stages of the project, the authorities have said.

The Urban Development Corporation (UDC), on behalf of the Government, signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) on March 9 with China Construction Company of America for the first part of the project to cover the design phase.

But local experts have complained that they were being left out. The Jamaica Institution of Engineers (JIE), which has been leading the local protests, met with the UDC earlier this month over the issue.

On those talks, JIE President Dave Barnaby said, "What we heard, JIE was very disappointed. They (UDC) kept on saying they wanted Jamaican professionals' contribution to be voluntary. To volunteer, yet the Chinese will be paid, as far as we understand."

In a statement Tuesday, the UDC did not speak specifically to the concerns raised but suggested that the first phase involving the Chinese will not incur any costs to the Government.

 

Concept, preliminary budget

 

The agency's general manager, Dr Damian Graham, explained that after the first phase, which involves the development of the concept, programme packages and a preliminary budget will be available for phase two.

That's where Jamaicans can get paid for their services as according to Graham, it will involve procurement of contracts for detailed designs of the concepts developed.

"The funding aspect of phases two and three are currently being developed and will include, but not limited to, use of current GOJ building rentals, Jamaica Diaspora contribution, local crowd funding and other novel approaches," he said, adding that the UDC would share details of the terms of the MOU with interest groups like the JIE in "further planned consultations".

The new Parliament building is part of the 'Government Circle' project at Heroes Circle. About 240 acres of land will also be used to construct several buildings for government ministries, agencies, and departments.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said 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".

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com