JM | Mar 7, 2023

CRH construction cost jumps to $14.1B due to rescoping and not overruns: Tufton

Mikala Johnson

Mikala Johnson / Our Today

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton.

The price tag for the reconstruction of the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St James has ballooned to almost 200 per cent more than its original estimate, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton revealed during a virtual press conference held earlier today (March 7)

Tufton, however, told individuals gathered for the briefing that the increase in the cost – from $5 billion to $14.1 billion – was due to “rescoping” and not as a result of cost overruns.

The press conference, which was held to provide an update on progress of the longrunning construction work at the CRH, was coming just days after the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce called for an open meeting with Tufton to discuss the hospital.

The Cornwall Regional Hospital.

In a release this morning, Opposition Spokesperson on Health and Wellness Dr Morais Guy said the Montego Bay business leaders’ demand was justified as the renovation of the hospital was now three years past the completion date with what he termed a massive cost overrun.

“This is public expenditure and is a project for the people of western Jamaica and the people of Jamaica in general. So, it’s important to put the information out there and to discuss where necessary,” Tufton during the press conference.

In giving his address, the minister noted that he was aware of the concerns of the public surrounding the CRH.

“I am fully aware that the $5 billion that was originally placed out there, based on a particular scope, is certainly not what it represents now, based on the new cost and also the new scoping. But, in terms of value for money, when you compare those numbers with what would entail in other jurisdictions, the sq. ft. cost is far more, and I think it’s important because we really want the public to remain confident in the process,” the minister said.

External view of the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St James. Photo taken in October 2019. (Photo: Mubarak Yusef for

Tufton continued: “We understand why questions would be asked. So, I am not suggesting that they should not be asked, that would be arrogant of me if I were to take that posture. I am a public servant, and my obligation is to account for my stewardship. What we are doing, I am very convinced of it. We are doing the best that we can under the circumstances to provide the best result for a modern efficient hospital for the people of western Jamaica.”

He added: “This is not an easy challenge that we have taken on. It’s probably the most significant, if not one of the most significant, that this Government has taken on since its almost seven years in office.”

The minister, in seeking to explain the lengthy delays in completing construction of the new CRH, the minister noted that the project had to go through a process including several stages.

“We have to build out alternative structure, that took time and it cost money, $2 billion worth … . While we are doing that, we are trying to assess the main building and, while doing that, breaking ground to build a brand new hospital,” Tufton said.

In breaking down the $14.1 billion estimate, Tufton said he hoped it would place in context what rescoping means as opposed to cost variation or cost overruns.

“This is not a case of cost overruns. It is a case of the rescoping of a project to create a new facility that the people of western Jamaica deserve.”

Break down Phase Three Estimates

Reconstruction of 387,500 Sq. Ft. – J$10.5 billion

Supply and installation of furniture, fittings and equipment – J$2.5 billion

Professional services to include (architect, MEPIT, quantity surveyor, structural engineer, etc) – J$1.1 billion

Grand total – J$14.1 billion

Said Tufton: “We did not place a bandage on the air conditioning system and ignore the compromised walls and foundations, ignore the leaking roof and pipes leaking in the walls … . It just could not happen and, to have to fix just one problem would mean that we would be constantly fixing problems.”

In addition, the minister said: “We really have to come to terms [with the fact] that we have neglected our infrastructure for many years and what this Government has done is to make a case for a new hospital.

“Yes, the frame has been there but a lot a work had been done in bolstering that frame and restoring the integrity of that frame. The future CRH will be a newly built out hospital, not a renovation.”


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