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Chinese-built modules for Rooke care home arrive by sea on Wednesday

Archive image of the framework for the care home at the Rooke site. Photo by Johnny Bugeja

A cargo ship carrying around 200 prefabricated modular units for construction of a privately-run residential care home at the Rooke site will arrive in Gibraltar from China on Wednesday.

The vessel, called Great Faith, will be unloaded at the dockyard and the units, which are the size and shape of containers, will be transported by large trucks to the site.

The operation has been planned to take place on Thursday night, given the considerable disruption that would otherwise be caused to traffic flow.

This means that from 11:00pm to 6:00am on Thursday January 12, 2023, Queensway will be closed to traffic from Trafalgar Roundabout to the roundabout at Coaling Island junction.

The road closures will be in place for several days but no longer than a week, the Gibraltar Government said.

Access will remain at all times for the residents of the area and temporary advance diversion signs will be placed accordingly.

“The Government is conscious that there will also be considerable noise generated by the unloading operation at the dockyard and would like to apologise to the public for any inconvenience caused,” No.6 Convent Place said in a statement.

“It is important to bear in mind that the beneficiaries of this project will be many of Gibraltar’s senior citizens, and that there is expected to be a significant knock-on effect with homes being released for rental to persons on the housing waiting list.”

The arrival of the ship from China is in line with a timeline for the project announced in Parliament last October by Sir Joe Bossano, the Minister for Economic Development.

The modules have been built in China and the residential home could be completed by “May or June”, Sir Joe told Parliament last year, although he cautioned the timeline was not definitive.

“There will be several months of continued work here in terms of making all the connections in the structure into which the modules will go,” he said at the time.

“The modules come fully furnished, [complete with] a shower in each bedroom, a small kitchenette in each bedroom, and all the services that we're going to provide in the home.”

“All this will require several months of further work.”

The project is being built by GBIC, a joint venture between the Gibraltar Government and Beijing Liujian Construction Group, a subsidiary of China’s state-owned Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG) which was founded in 1953.

GBIC is using the international subsidiary of BCEG, the UK-based Beijing Construction Engineering Group International (BCEGI), as a consultant given its experience working with similar construction techniques in the UK, including the £500m Airport City Manchester.

Parliament was told the modules for the Gibraltar project were being “built in China to British standards”.
Sir Joe said too that labour would be imported to carry out the integration of the modules into the structure that has been built at the Rooke site.

He said the workers would be from the UK, not China, and that they had already carried out similar work in UK sites.

But he added too that local workers would work alongside them to learn skills for any future modular projects.

Sir Joe had previously told Parliament that the modular construction technique would cuts costs drastically, enable faster construction and potentially provide Gibraltar with an exportable business for its post-Brexit economy.

But the GSD said the scheme was “flawed” against the backdrop of a fall in demand for modular construction, adding it would leave locally-based companies without much-needed business they would otherwise have competed for.

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