Former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony and former Minister of Health under the United Workers Party (UWP) regime Dr. Keith Mondesir have made a clarion call for Minster Guy Joseph to be removed from the St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project.
They made the call yesterday while addressing a town hall meeting in Vieux-Fort which was organised by the Vieux-Fort Concerned Citizens Coalition for Change.
The two were among four panelists, which included Mark Hennecart, an architect who has worked on a number of public buildings both here and regionally, and Dr. Ernest Hilaire.
They had the large gathering who listened with intent fired up as they made their presentations without mincing words.
And from the response of the agitated gathering it was quite clear that they are prepared to take to the streets now to show their dissatisfaction with how government is handling the St. Jude Reconstruction Project.
“We are prepared to take protest action now, not tomorrow,” and “We are tired of going to meetings and doing nothing,” were some of the comments made by individuals in the crowd during the presentations of the panelists.
Dr. Mondesir and Dr. Anthony sought to dismiss the arguments of Joseph, point by point on some of the contentious issues relating to St. Jude Hospital, which the minister claimed occurred under the former administration.
“My position is that Guy Joseph should be left out of the project….” Mondesir said, triggering a thunderous applause from the gathering.
According to Mondesir, who was the Minister of Health at the time of the fire, the project should not fall under the Ministry of Economic Development, but rather under the Ministry of Infrastructure. He added that Joseph and all those people behind him are just causing confusion on the matter.
He described the idea of demolishing the hospital as lunatic, reckless and unproductive.
Mondesir said after the fire his government had engaged the American Engineer to assess the situation, and were advised by them not to interfere with the walls of the hospital, but rather to renovate it to build a strong structure.
He said they also engaged the Taiwanese government who donated $100 million towards the reconstruction of the hospital which has been a military hospital since 1941.
Mondesir dismissed the idea that there was no plan for the reconstruction of the hospital.
“I remember on two occasions the Taiwanese came here and showed us the plans…The plans are here…” Mondesir said.
He said on the project, they had a project manager in the name of Shanta King, a civil engineer, and a consultant who overlooked what she did, so he can’t understand how Joseph can say there are so many flaws in the hospital.
He said when they left office it was said the hospital was 75 per cent complete but now it is 55 per cent complete.
He called on the government to bring back the Taiwanese construction firm which worked on the Wellness Centre on the Millennium Highway, which according to him was sabotaged by the Chinese. He said the firm has a good track record and is confident that they will do a very good job, adding that if this happens the hospital will be completed within a year.
The audience was also given an opportunity to ask questions on the issues discussed. And they did make full use of the opportunity by asking a number of pertinent questions.