No need to probe Vikab Engineering on Port of Spain hospital project
Launching an investigation into Vikab Engineering Consultants Ltd would be premature and unnecessary, said Senate Government Affairs Leader Dr Amery Browne.
On Tuesday in the Senate, he answered a question from opposition Senator Wade Mark about allegations surrounding the company, including the Shanghai construction group’s claim that Vikab was responsible for blocking the hospital project. General of Port of Spain (PoSGH) of $1.1 billion.
Browne said it was customary for contractors and consultants to blame themselves when project problems arose, especially when contracts were terminated.
He said: “The government has not launched an investigation into the performance of Vikab Engineering Consultants Ltd on the Port of Spain Hospital Central Block project.
“Absent a determination of liability by an arbitral tribunal, such an investigation into Vikab would be premature at this stage. Additionally, the executing agency, Udecott (Trinidad and Tobago Urban Development Corporation ), reported no issues with Fidic (International Federation of Consulting Engineers) engineer Vikab on this project.”
Mark insisted on getting more details on reports or complaints submitted by both parties to Udecott and whether the government had any information about them, but Browne repeated that the oversight entity (Udecott) had not found any problem with the consultant.
“What I can assure the senator (is that) if this is submitted, relevant checks will be made on incoming and outgoing correspondence, and the appropriate response will be provided to the senator and the Senate.”
The PoSGH central block project was awarded to Shanghai Construction Group (Caribbean) Ltd (SCG), but it terminated the contract in January 2022, citing unexpected additional transportation costs of US$9 million, financial fallout from delays bureaucratic, among other reasons.
SCG director Michael Zhang said in a statement to Udecott that the delays had doubled the project’s completion time from 22 to 44 months and had also forced the company into an “extremely difficult situation”.
He said then, “This unacceptable delay made us worry about the project management process” and the change in development design on the part of the official had taken 165 days, “These additional 144 days – almost five months – interfered with the progress of the other design work on the project.”
Vikab Engineering Consultants Ltd has denied any wrongdoing.
In April, Udecott Chairman Noel Garcia said it would cost taxpayers an additional $110 million and two years to complete the project. The block was badly damaged by an earthquake in 2018.
He said Udecott had also received Cabinet approval to hire local contractors to complete the work.