The government’s budget for its public hospital project in Cotai, officially known as Cotai Health Complex, has already reached at least 9.8 billion patacas – although the mammoth sum does not include the construction of two still unscheduled buildings in the complex, as well as the cost of buying and installing the medical equipment following the completion of the whole project, Ella Lei Cheng I, who heads the legislature’s Followup Committee for Land and Public Concession Affairs, has quoted government officials as saying.
According to previous media reports, the whole Cotai hospital project was initially budgeted at 10 billion patacas.
Briefing reporters after a closed-door meeting of the committee last Friday, Lei also said that even if the several main buildings of the project – including a general hospital – have been completed by August 2022 as scheduled, the hospital could only be up and running after 2023 as it would take the government at least a year to carry out a raft of administrative and preparatory tasks prior to the hospital’s operational start, such as the final green light for the completed buildings and the installation of medical equipment.
The members of the committee asked three officials – Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário, Infrastructure Development Office (GDI) Director Lam Wai Hou, and Health Bureau (SSM) official tasked with supervising the development of construction projects for the bureau, Chou Kuok Hei, to brief them about the latest progress of the Cotai hospital project.
Project started in 2010
The Cotai hospital project comprising seven buildings was first announced in 2010, but its design and construction have been repeatedly delayed. Rosário told reporters in 2016 he was “sure” that the construction of the project would not be completed by 2019 as previously planned by the government.
The government plans to complete the Cotai hospital project in two phases – six buildings in the first phase and one in the second phase. Among the seven buildings, only the construction of one building has been completed so far – the nursing college the construction of which started in 2017 and was completed in October.
According to previous media reports, the Kiang Wu Nursing College of Macau, which is now located next to the private Kiang Wu Hospital on the peninsula, will move to the new building in the Cotai hospital complex next year.
The office launched a tender for the construction of three main buildings of the Cotai hospital in December last year and granted a consortium consisting of three construction companies the construction contract in October. According to the contract, the consortium is required to complete the project in August 2022.
The three main buildings comprise a general hospital, a logistics support building and an administration and multi-purpose building.
Also, the office launched a tender for the construction of staff quarters in May this year. It has recently granted a construction company the contract for the construction of the building.
Concerning the remaining building in the first phase – a central laboratory, only the pile foundations have been completed. The government is yet to launch a tender for the construction of the building’s main structure. Concerning the building in the second phase – a rehabilitation hospital, the government has still not completed its design. This means that the government still does not have a timetable as to when the construction of the remaining two buildings will get off the ground.
According to the information provided by the government to the committee last Friday, the construction of the staff quarters will soon get off the ground following the signing of the contract between the government and the winning bidder.
The officials told the committee that the government now expects to launch a tender for the construction of the central laboratory building later this month as its construction plan had finally been completed and approved, according to Lei.
According to the information provided to the committee, the government has spent 1.1 billion patacas on the pile foundations of the six buildings in the first phase.
According to information provided to the committee, the construction of the main structure of the nursing college – which was completed in October – was budgeted at 609 million patacas as per its construction contract, while the construction of the main structures of the three main buildings and the staff quarters building are budgeted at 7.35 billion patacas and 357 million patacas respectively as per their respective construction contracts. Therefore, the construction cost for the main structures of the five buildings would amount to 8.32 billion patacas.
According to information provided to the committee, other related professional tasks for the Cotai hospital, such as project management, quantity surveying (QS) and quality control (QC), have so far been budgeted at 441 million patacas.
Consequently, the government’s latest budget for the Cotai Health Complex has so far amounted to at least 9.86 billion patacas; Lei quoted the officials as saying.
10 billion patacas
According to media reports, the government previously spent about 300 million on hiring architectural consultancies to design the Cotai hospital, which means that the project has already taken 10 billion patacas from the public coffers.
Lei quoted the officials as saying that the Health Bureau has increased the number of beds in the general hospital building from the originally-planned 600 to 1,100 in response to the ageing population.
As the Health Bureau had also decided to increase the number of beds in the rehabilitation hospital in the second phase from the initially- planned 140 to 300, it needed to revise its construction design, which is still ongoing, according to Lei, who said that consequently the government still does not have a budget for the rehabilitation hospital.
The members of the committee said they believed residents would think that the cost of the Cotai hospital is “massive”, Lei said, adding that her committee would ask the government to provide them with further details about the project with the aim of enabling civil society to know the overall budget for the whole project.
The officials told the committee that after the construction of the three main buildings has been completed, the government would need four or five months for administrative and preparatory tasks, including the final inspection of the completed buildings, and another nine months for the installation and testing of medical equipment, before they could start operating, Lei said, adding that while the government did not specify when the hospital operation could get off the ground, her committee believed that this could not happen before the end of2023.