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South Campus opening unlikely for September

Monday, May 28, 2018

The University of the West Indies South Campus is supposed to be handed over by contractors in July but after spending more than $420 million on the controversial project, extensive works remain undone.

Sources said the slow release of funds was hampering the completion of the project and it was highly unlikely that the campus will be ready for its first intake of students in September.

The dormitory building has already been erected but interior fixtures such as cupboards, floor tiles, installation of toilets and plumbing remain undone.

The moot court, which was the first building to be set up, still has an unfinished floor. No works have been done on the pavilion which is overgrown with weeds and the library roof is still being installed.

Construction of Road Number 8 has not been completed by the contractor because of insufficient funds, the source said.

Last week, contractors blocked off the M2 Ring Road on either side to build a drain to alleviate flooding.

“This area usually has flood so the drain was built so that the water could run off and not gather in front of the campus,” the source said.

When Guardian Media visited the site, construction workers were on the compound washing down the access roads. A few buildings were painted but the main administrative areas, students’ union buildings, library, and dormitories were in various stages of completion.

The construction of the campus, which began under the People’s Partnership government, has been rife with controversy since its inception. The selection of design-build contractor China Jiangsu International Economic-Technical Cooperation Corporation (CJIETCC) was opposed by the T&T Local Content Chamber and the T&T Contractors Association who felt that based on foreign firm’s track record on other projects, the contract should not have been granted to a foreign company.

The Chinese firm received $350 million out of the $420 million spent on the project, which was financed by the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP). A source at UWI said legal steps have been taken to recover monies from the company since the campus should have been completed by May and handed over to the UWI in July.

During an interview in March, a senior official at UWI confirmed that the law campus was not going to be housed at the South Campus but the official directed further queries to UWI’s marketing department.

Guardian Media was told that final decisions on which faculties would be housed at the campus have not yet been made.

“Project discussions aimed at determining optimal use of the facilities are still underway. As such, no final decision regarding use and relocation of the campus’ operations has been made,” UWI said.

UWI Pro-Vice Chancellor and campus principal Prof Brian Copeland stated in an email, “At every stage of this project we remain cognisant of the significant amount of taxpayers’ dollars that have been spent on this campus even before construction stopped. It is incumbent on us to complete the works and then seek to maximise the site’s full potential for the benefit of current and future citizens.”


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