SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The next pouring of a subsequent section of the basement floor of the St. Maarten General Hospital (SMGH) is scheduled within the next few days as the new hospital project gathers steam and resumes full construction activities after main contractor FINSO (formerly known as INSO) completes its full transition as a result of its acquisition by new parent company Fincantieri Group as announced in 2021. The opening of a local bank account has been finalized and as such payments to subcontractors can be done locally shortly without any further issues, St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) announced on Wednesday.
As of June 2021, it was announced that FINSO took over the activities of INSO, but it took until mid October before all formalities for taking over the hospital project were finalized. Those formalities had to do with issuing of new performance bonds, providing parent guarantees, incorporating a new local branch office and formally transferring all personnel from INSO to FINSO. In addition, FINSO also optimized and restructured the activities from INSO in Italy into the corporate culture and structure of the Fincantieri Group.
FINSO is a general contractor that aims to work mostly with local subcontractors in all their construction projects. FINSO is responsible for the delivery of a complete new hospital on St. Maarten including all medical equipment, furniture and fixtures. The medical equipment component is a large part of the overall construction budget, but nevertheless it is agreed with FINSO that approximately 49% of the entire construction budget will be spent on the island, which will have a positive effect on the local economy.
After the incorporation of the new local branch, FINSO could start the process of opening a local bank account. Due to increased compliance (KYC - Know Your Customer) protocols that banks are obliged to follow, the opening of a new bank account can become a time-consuming exercise. Furthermore, the Christmas holidays and time necessary to translate FINSO’s corporate documents from Italian to English have added to the incurred delays. However, SMMC has received confirmation from FINSO that the local bank account is now open and FINSO is taking care of transferring the funds to this account, to immediately make outstanding payments to the local subcontractors.
When looking at the activities at the construction site over the past 2 months, one could witness limited ongoing construction activities. FINSO stated that there are multiple reasons for this limited progress but nonetheless, SMMC is urging the contractor on a daily basis to accelerate the activities as much as possible. One of the next milestones is the 4th pour for the basement floor, which is scheduled shortly. With this 4th pour the foundation of the main building is more than halfway.
Following the Job fair in November 2021, FINSO and its subcontractors are in the process of hiring additional skilled labor as the contractor aims to ramp up construction activities from here on out now that all transition formalities have been completed and the main focus can be brought back to resuming all construction activities. FINSO, just like most companies in the world, has challenges getting construction materials to St. Maarten on time due to supply chain challenges (material shortages) and international shipping delays due to a lack of available containers.
After the takeover, FINSO performed a detailed evaluation of the time schedule, work methods, the final design and the availability of local labor and equipment. Based on this evaluation, FINSO is now optimizing their planning and work methods for the project.
With these optimizations, FINSO informed SMMC that by the end of February 2022, the improvements in their approach to run the project will be visible. By then, SMMC will also have a better insight regarding the timeline of the construction project, which has already been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the transfer from INSO to FINSO.
Although SMMC has created temporary provisions to expand its care services at its present location, the new hospital will further improve care services for its patients, bringing quality care close to home, and therefore SMMC anticipates delivery of the project as soon as possible through an optimized work approach by FINSO.