Tue | Jun 2, 2020

Foreign affairs ministry relocation put off till March 2020

Published:Monday | December 9, 2019 | 12:06 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
The new Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in downtown Kingston.
The new Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in downtown Kingston.

The recently completed multibillion-dollar Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade building located in downtown Kingston will not be occupied until about March 31, 2020, when it is furnished and fully functional.

That is the word from Permanent Secretary Ambassador Marcia Gilbert-Roberts in response to queries about missed deadlines for its occupancy.

Chinese firm Jiangsu Jiangdu Construction Group Company Ltd built the 11-storey edifice with 17 department levels to accommodate 285 staff members.

The building also boasts a conference room, a children’s centre, a dining area, as well as an area for medical care, leisure and recreation, and an auxiliary room and is a marked improvement on the ministry’s current location in New Kingston.

After construction ended in October, the building was formally handed over to the Government by the Chinese authorities at a ceremony at its Port Royal Street, downtown Kingston, address on Wednesday, October 16.

But a source has informed this newspaper that ongoing plumbing problems have contributed to the relocation delay.

When contacted, Gilbert-Roberts said she was not aware of any plumbing issues at the new building and has offered to verify that claim.

Further, The Gleaner was directed to speak with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), project manager for the $3.9 billion project, but repeated calls to General Manager Heather Pinnock went unanswered.

Questions have been raised as to when the ministry will move into the new building after missing the June 2019 deadline.

The Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (MEGJC) said that a retendering exercise was partly to blame for the botched relocation plan.

“The package for the furniture for the new building had to be retendered because the first set of bidders did not meet the criteria outlined in the tender package,” the ministry said in a statement.

The MEGJC also said that in response to a second advertisement, a second set of bids were returned on October 8, 2019, and that the tender evaluation process has begun. The procurement process will take about two months while the successful bidder will require two to three months to source and install the furniture.