Prime Minister, Patrick Manning made the announcement Friday night at the gala commissioning of the 428-room Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Port-of-Spain. Manning also announced that construction on the country’s second iron and steel complex is slated to commence by August.
Manning said, “We will initiate construction of our first aluminum smelter...in fact equipment is now on the water from China.”
In quick succession, the Prime Minister listed a string of development plans, including the new port in the capital city which he said has attracted bidders from around the globe and is to be completed in three years, a $25 billion transportation highway upgrade over the next eight years, the ongoing construction of the Performing Arts Academies, Govern-ment Campus and the establishment of the country’s first national philharmonic orchestra, in tandem with plans for performance arts.
He made the statements before a large VIP audience including President George Maxwell Richards and his wife, Dr Jean Ramjohn-Richards, Government Ministers, Jamaica Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, Caricom Secretary General, Dr Edwin Carrington and executive chairman of the Urban Development Corporation UdeCOTT, Calder Hart.
Turning to the recently launched G-pan, which was used by the National Steel Symphony on Friday night, Manning boasted of its range, tone, size, standardisation and metalurgical qualities, adding that it represents a quantum leap over what existed before.
“So much so that I am in a position to say that the days of the oil drum as an instrument are no more, those days have passed,” he said.
Manning noted that the time had come to give young people a recreational alternative and Government commissioned the establishment of the band, Divine Echoes.
“We invested heavily in that, in fact about $1 million worth of instruments... and from the quality of music we have heard... they will succeed in the purpose for which they were established,” he said.
Hart said that successive governments “since 1995 all agreed and placed priority on the development of the Port-of-Spain International Waterfront Project,” of which the Hyatt Regency is a part.
“Thirteen years ago when we successfully completed the negotiations for the siting of the ACS headquarters the decision was taken that this site would be home to high quality office accommodation and a luxury hotel and conference centre,” Hart said.
Of the Waterfront Project which drew heavy public skepticism and began without a sod turning ceremony, Manning said it constitutes the largest building construction project ever undertaken in Trinidad, two 26-storey buildings, each floor providing 15,000 square feet of space, the 428-room Hyatt Regency Hotel, the largest conference centre in the English-speaking Caribbean, 1,200 car park stalls, a waterfront promenade which will be open to the public of TT, making Port-of-Spain a waterfront city akin to Sydney, Australia.
“At a total cost of $1.85 billion excluding VAT and finance charges, in addition to say that the project has been conducted and delivered on time and within budget,” Manning said.
Construction at the Waterfront commenced in August 2005.