Thu | Nov 23, 2017

Chinese firm to be paid US$1m to design Government Circle master plan

Published:Monday | June 26, 2017 | 12:52 PM
In this file photo builders work on the perimeter wall at Heroes Circle in Kingston.

The Urban Development Corporation is yet to respond to a claim that the government is set to pay the a Chinese firm as much as US$1 million to design the master plan for the development of Government Circle at Heroes Circle in central Kingston.

Chairman of the Jamaican Institute of Architects' College of Fellows, Clifton Yap, says contrary to pronouncements by the government that China Construction America – South America Division (CCASA), is offering its services free of cost, the agreement signed with the UDC stipulates that the government pay as much as US$1 million.

He says the sum is to be paid for designing the master plan that will guide the development of Government Circle.

When contacted this morning, General Manager of the UDC, Dr Damian Graham, said he was going to a meeting and referred our news centre to corporate relations director, Lorna Clarke, who was also said to be in a meeting.

Writing in yesterday's Gleaner, Yap further said that after reviewing the memorandum of understanding signed between project manager UDC and CCASA, it was discovered that the Chinese firm has the exclusive right to design the master plan, including the concept design for all buildings in the development.

Yap says the scope of the master plan for Government Circle includes construction of a new Parliament building, approximately 17 government ministries and agencies, commercial and residential developments, a multi-modal transport centre, a cruise ship pier and housing projects.

According to the architect, the estimated size of the development has been projected at 13 million square feet, which, when calculated at an average price of US$120 a square foot, will cost about US$1.55 billion to build.

He suggested that the government scrap the present agreement as the arrangement is not the most efficient and transparent way to execute a project of the magnitude of the Government Circle development.

He said other state agencies involved in local planning, design, engineering and environmental professionals, as well as community interests in the affected areas, and civil society should be invited to review the UDC's master plan for Government Circle. 

Yap said after that exercise, construction of specific buildings and infrastructure should be prioritised, put out for tender in smaller packages and pursued in phases.