Medical helicopter service could start before Acute Referral Hospital is completed

By Admin. Updated 5:00 a.m., Tuesday, July 26, 2022, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).

Discussions are currently underway with the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority – ECCAA to have a privately operated medical chopper service approved between mainland St. Vincent and the islands of the Grenadines.

The approval is being sought for the commencement of the service even before the Acute Referral Hospital at Arnos Vale is completed, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said in Parliament on Monday (July 25).

At the time, the prime minister was speaking broadly about development issues during his debate on a bill for an Act to allow the government to borrow USD 62 million from Taiwan to contribute to the funding needed to execute the Port Modernization Project in Kingstown.

The bill – Port Modernization (Loan Authorization) Bill, 2022, was successfully passed.

“We are in discussions with a private operator . If it were not for the recent volcanic eruptions and all the rest of it, they would have already been working… well, they started to work with ECCAA – The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority to see if they can get approvals and they could start to do operations even before the hospital has started or completed,” Dr. Gonsalves said.

“I’m hoping that we can begin in the second quarter of next year (2023),” the prime minister said, referring to the commencement of works on the Acute Referral Hospital which will focus on providing tertiary health care services.

In 2020, the prime minister announced that a helipad is part of the design for the Acute Referral Hospital, and that it will help to serve the Grenadines and other far places.

In 2022, he said the helipad service will be in addition to the sea ambulance currently in operation to serve the Grenadines.

The Port Modernization Project

The EC $600 million dollar project is being financed by the Caribbean Development Bank – CDB (loan), the British Government (grant), and the Export Import Bank of the Republic of China on Taiwan.

Canadian firm Aecon Group Inc. has been awarded a US$170 million contract by the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for the design and construction of the Kingstown Port Modernisation Project.

Construction on the port is expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2023, with an anticipated duration of two and a half years.

According to a Bloomberg report which accurately aligns with ministerial statements made in Parliament, the primary scope of work includes designing and building a cargo port and relocating a sewer outfall line, as well as road upgrades and strengthening within the port catchment area in Kingstown. Additional scope includes work on the terminal area of approximately 6.5 hectares on seaward reclaimed land, a sheet pile quay wall of 380 metres in length, as well as sheet pile walls of 130 metres in length on both sides of the reclaimed area, a container storage yard, and break-bulk vehicle storage and maintenance areas.

Terminal buildings will include administration and customs, workshops, warehouses, and a container freight station. The project is being financed by the Caribbean Development Bank, The United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund and the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The construction contract will be supervised by Sellhorn Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH (Germany).

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