Silvera blasts CRH’s oversight committee
Janet Silvera, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), has taken the Professor Archibald McDonald-led Cornwall Regional Hospital’s (CRH) independent oversight committee to task for what she says is their sluggish approach in handling the multibillion-dollar rehabilitation of the western region’s only Type A hospital.
According to Silvera, the reconstruction of the 400-bed hospital is long overdue, contending that after an expenditure of over $4 billion, there should at least be a clear timeline for the completion of the rehabilitation.
“The chamber has continually made its views known, and I believe that we have been too patient for too long,” said Silvera, who was addressing a press conference in Montego Bay recently. “There are no more valid excuses left to give. We have suffered enough and we’ve been tormented enough.
“We believe an absentee oversight committee cannot truly understand, and therefore will not be dedicated enough to put in the urgent work needed to accelerate the project,” said Silvera, in pointing out that the head of the government-appointed CRH independent oversight committee is not based in the region.
Silvera further noted that while the business community and the wider citizenry are aware that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic would have caused some degree of interruption, she still thinks the current trajectory is appalling.
“The apparent lack of progress, given the amount of money already spent, and the current standstill, is extremely distressing and concerning for not only the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, but the parish of St James, the community that lives here in this particular region,” Silvera said.
According to the chamber boss, she does not believe that the chairman of such an important oversight committee should be domiciled outside of the parish.
“If anybody in this room can tell me why it is that we would have a chairman who is not living in Montego Bay, does not come to Montego Bay as far as we know, probably doesn’t have the time to go to the hospital, then you let me know,” said Silvera.
When contacted, McDonald told The Gleaner that the members of his committee are very competent and that the committee is simply an advisory one, which depends on information from the project team out of the Ministry of Health and Wellness. He noted that in the initial stages, his team made weekly visits to the hospital site, but things have changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The problem with that project is bureaucracy and really cumbersome procurement practices,” said McDonald, in voicing his own concerns about the project. “That’s what it is, and everybody’s afraid.
“I believe that even the people in the Ministry of Health are afraid to do what they must do to get the contractor and so on, because they don’t want to be hauled before the parliamentary committee and be ostracised,” added McDonald.