Letter gave wrong impression of PWD

I write this in response to the letter entitled ‘Cut Coat to Fit Cloth’ in the Tuesday, 23 June edition of The Compass. As Director of the Public Works Department, I believe it necessary to respond to the letter, given the false impressions readers may have received regarding the PWD and our operations.

Let me first outline what PWD is and the services we provide to our clients. Firstly, PWD was a department within the Ministry of Health, Aviation, Agriculture and Works until 30 June.

Since 1 July, the PWD reports to the Ministry of Communication, Works and Infrastructure.

PWD provides a wide range of services including advisory, architectural/ design, quantity surveying, project management, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, construction and maintenance of public structures to government ministries and departments (our clients).

Our projects could be as small as completing an office fit-out and constructing a new jetty to offering project management services for the design and build of major facilities, such as the new George Town Hospital project or the new Prospect Primary School. At this time, approximately 90 per cent of the services PWD offers are building construction and maintenance services; and, although PWD carries out some new project construction in-house, the vast majority is managed by Public Works, but carried out by private sector contractors.

So readers might then ask, as suggested by the author of the 23 June letter, ‘Well if Public Works provides all these services, then why are there no fire escape stairwells at the Glass House?’, as an example. Put quite simply, it is not the responsibility of PWD to initiate projects. Government ministries and departments are all responsible for their own facilities; PWD provides them with the required services when requested and only when requested. Replacing a building, a wall, refitting an office or building fire escapes are policy decisions made at the client/Ministry level. Public Works responds to the needs and requirements of clients when requested.

In the early phases of any project, PWD can assist the client with defining the project scope, requirements and putting initial estimates to the proposed project. Once defined and priced, the project and all associated expenses have to be approved by the client and affiliated Ministry before the project can proceed. When and if approved, the proposed project is them passed along for preliminary drawings and estimates, followed by detailed drawings and construction contracts.

Despite impressions left by the 23 June letter, PWD as an organisation works hard to meet client needs. Operational efficiency has been a challenge since Hurricane Ivan, given the enormous increase in workload and the damage to many of our facilities and vehicles.

In response to post-Ivan challenges, PWD is working hard with Deloitte Consulting to help improve operational efficiency, provide better service to clients, and increase employee job satisfaction. At the heart of this Organisational Review and our recent project completions are our valued employees. Our employees have been incredibly dedicated and have made a lot of personal sacrifices for the sake of the client and Public Works. Many employees have not yet finished repairs on their own homes, yet work day in and day out to restore and uphold the standards of the buildings for the general public.

PWD employees are civil servants in the truest sense of the word. Some of our recent successes include the post-Ivan repair of Cayman’s many schools and government facilities, and the construction of the Cayman Islands Tourist Market, the Abattoir, Animal Rescue Shelter and the Prospect Primary School.

Prospect Primary, completed just two weeks before hurricane Ivan, provided safe shelter for hundreds during Ivan. Although not flawless, PWD and the Cayman Islands continue to impress the international community with the coordination and execution of our Annual Hurricane Preparedness Exercise and exceed expectations in the quality as highlighted by the report entitled ‘Impacts of Hurricane Ivan in Grand Cayman – a technical review of the hazards and their effects’ commissioned by the UK Department for International Development.

This report which was widely distributed to those involved in the hurricane recovery operation stated ‘the low loss of life in Ivan (official death toll of two) is due in no small part to the efforts of PWD in providing shelter and critical facilities which withstood Ivan’s test.’

I would like to thank all our employees for their continued efforts, dedication and excellent work on recent projects and hope that your readers might take the opportunity to do the same. My hat goes off to the entire PWD team.

Max Jones

Director, Public Works Department

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