Housing Minister denies MPs claim of $7m waste at HDC site

Entornointeligente.com /

Ca­roni Cen­tral MP Arnold Ram has claimed that the Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (HDC) is pay­ing over $7 mil­lion a year to rent scaf­fold­ing for the Ed­in­burgh Tow­ers project in Ch­agua­nas al­though work there has stalled.

How­ev­er, this has been de­nied by Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Camille Robin­son-Reg­is.

In April 2021, then Min­is­ter of Hous­ing Pene­lope Beck­les promised the project would be com­plet­ed by June of this year.

But dur­ing a vis­it to the La Clave Street lo­ca­tion on Tues­day, MP Ram lament­ed the state of the work and what he called wast­ed mon­ey on scaf­fold­ing.

«The scaf­fold­ing has been erect­ed around and hug­ging this build­ing in the pe­riph­ery for the last two years. Our in­for­ma­tion is this is cost­ing tax­pay­ers $22,000 per day. When you con­vert that, it is a year­ly fig­ure of $7.9 mil­lion be­ing wast­ed,» Ram said.

In a re­sponse to Guardian Me­dia, Robin­son-Reg­is ac­cused the Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress of mis­lead­ing the pub­lic.

«The scaf­fold­ing at the Ed­in­burgh Tow­ers is owned by the HDC, so the ques­tion of rental does not arise. MP Ram is there­fore to­tal­ly in­cor­rect and spew­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion,» she ex­plained.

Ram al­so raised ques­tions over a com­ple­tion date for the project.

«We are al­most in June 2022 and not a nail has been ham­mered in­to any wall…not a fin­ger has been lift­ed in the con­struc­tion of these tow­ers.»

He said he has got­ten sev­er­al calls from res­i­dents ask­ing when the tow­ers will be com­plet­ed.

«Tell us when it is go­ing to start, when it is go­ing to com­plete, what is the to­tal cost.»

Robin­son-Reg­is an­swered, «The HDC has a care­ful­ly thought out pro­cure­ment process which will re­sult in the suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the Ed­in­burgh Tow­ers and make 140 af­ford­able units avail­able to el­i­gi­ble cit­i­zens of Trinidad and To­ba­go. We have de­ter­mined that the com­ple­tion date for Tow­er One is De­cem­ber 2022 and for Tow­er Two, May 2023. The in­ten­tion is to utilise sev­er­al small con­trac­tors cho­sen af­ter the ten­der process which is now in train.»

Ram al­so ques­tioned if the HDC has got­ten the de­sign ap­provals and all the statu­to­ry ap­provals re­lat­ing to the project.

How­ev­er, in April last year, HDC chair­man Noel Gar­cia said af­ter an analy­sis, en­gi­neers gave the HDC clear­ance to pro­ceed and all oth­er ap­provals were re­ceived.

When the project stalled in 2011, it was due to de­sign flaws and miss­ing ap­provals from the T&T Elec­tric­i­ty Com­mis­sion, Wa­ter and Sew­er­age Au­thor­i­ty, T&T Fire Ser­vice and the Town and Coun­try Plan­ning Di­vi­sion.

Con­struc­tion of the tow­ers start­ed in March 2005 and was bud­get­ed at $57 mil­lion ini­tial­ly but it in­curred $87.7 mil­lion in vari­a­tions.

In 2015, then Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Dr Roodal Mooni­lal es­ti­mat­ed that it would cost about $200 mil­lion to re­design and com­plete the con­struc­tion of the two aban­doned apart­ment tow­ers.

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LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian

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