Former Health Minister Dr Keith Mondesir and Former Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony – once staunch political foes – have now united to call for the removal of Guy Joseph from the St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project.
Mondesir, a former United Workers Party MP, attended a town hall meeting organized by the Vieux Fort Concerned Citizens Coalition for Change Wednesday night where he called for the hospital reconstruction project to be taken over by the Ministry of Infrastructure.
“My suggestion is this, that Guy Joseph should be left out of this project. This project belongs to the Ministry of Communication and Works or what we now call Infrastructure because it’s an infrastructural project. It is not a project for economics. It’s an infrastructural project,” Mondesir said.
His sentiments we echoed by Former Prime Minister and MP for Vieux Fort-South Dr. Kenny Anthony.
“I agree with him that Guy Joseph must be removed from this project as quickly as possible,” Anthony said. “He has to be removed from managing this project because you cannot continue the construction of such a major item of infrastructure and shrouding it controversy, shrouding it in mystery, shrouding it with mischief. All of those things.”
Eight years after St Jude Hospital was destroyed by fire, the reconstruction has been mired in controversy. Reports say $118 million have been spent on the project with only an estimated 50 percent of work completed.
Construction work on the St Jude Hospital was halted shortly after the Allen Chastanet Administration took office in 2016 and dismissed the Project Management team.
Minister Joseph says he has requested plans for the hospital but to no avail.
“Those who say they had a plan, I have called on them on several occasions. Give us the plan! So when Dr. Kenny Anthony, as Minister of Finance, was signing direct award after direct award, he should have known as Prime Minister what the plans were. So when he wants to have a meeting, these are the things that he needs to tell the people of St Lucia,” Joseph said.
However Dr. Anthony suggested that the government placed the cart before the horse in its search for information about the project.
“How can you get answers about the issues you are raising with the hospital if the person who has the most knowledge, within weeks of you coming to office, you fire them. I would have thought that the proper thing to do was to hold on to that professional, obtain her support, review what has happened to the hospital, get all the information and then of course you decide afterwards she’s not the right person to bring to completion, you terminate,” Dr Anthony said.
The former Prime Minister added that the former Project Manager, Shanta King and the project consultants are now refusing to cooperate with the government because of threats of legal action.
“She feels, justifiably, well I have to protect myself. And the contractor as well as the project engineers feel the same way that they cannot enter into a relationship of cooperation for the very simple reason that they’re being threatened,” Anthony said.
Dr. Mondesir offered his suggestion to complete the hospital.
“My advice is to bring down that same firm who has a track record in St Lucia already for constructing a building that was sabotaged to come down here and see what they can do before we make any step further and find out how much it’s going to cost, how long it’s going to take us before we do that construction,” Mondesir said.