It’s scandalous

She also expressed disgust over the revelation, as reported in yesterday’s edition of Newsday, that an estimated $80 million would be needed to correct major flaws at the academy as pointed out by president of the Artists Coalition of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT) Rubadri Victor, in a dossier entitled “The Tragedy and Hidden History of the NAPA”.

Persad-Bissessar told Newsday that she was appalled at the findings of massive design flaws, technical shortcomings, substandard material and poor workmanship in the NAPA construction.

“This building,” she said, “is supposed to be designed and constructed using state of the art technology, a purpose-built structure to facilitate showcasing our wealth of talent. Taxpayers will have to contribute $480 million, plus interest, plus maintenance costs of upwards of $50 million every year, to pay to a foreign company, who designed and built this monstrosity,” she said.

Citizens, she added, are forced to do without much needed hospitals, schools, roads and access to water so that a Prime Minister can have what he has internationally declared as a, “masterpiece”.

She went on to accuse the government of not putting in place competent engineers, design consultants, project managers and quality control officers on NAPA to ensure the country gets value for money.

“Instead of calling for an investigation into why such shoddy workmanship was allowed by Udecott and its then chairman Calder Hart, the Prime Minister was effusive in praising the former chairman for delivering to the people of this nation a monument of incompetence,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar said the absence of project management raises another troubling concern.

“NAPA was built by the Shanghai Construction Group and the Victor report raises concerns about the quality of steel used in the construction and therefore the potential for structural problems.

“NAPA is now a tragedy of epic proportions. The truth of the Government’s building spree is now being revealed. It is an ugly picture, full of corruption, mismanagement and squandermania and one that future generations of taxpayers will have to pay for,” Persad-Bissessar said.

She reiterated her call for a forensic audit of all Udecott projects. “And all the members of the board must be fired,” she said.

Meanwhile Political leader of the Congress of the People (COP) Winston Dookeran yesterday added his voice to the scandal describing as “atrocious” the reported $80 million needed to effect repairs and changes to flaws at NAPA

Speaking during a press conference held at the COP Operation Centre, Chaguanas office, yesterday, Dookeran said: “What I have read so far, of course we have to verify all of this, it is atrocious that shortly after this entire Performing Arts Center has been set up at a tremendous cost, now there is need for refurbishment.

“It merely reflects really, that our entire process by which we constructed these buildings has left a lot to be desired apart from the issues of corruption which have arisen as a result. We will look forward to seeing a full determination of the issues and I will await further response from the Prime Minister on this as indeed we await his response on the Guanapo church matter,” Dookeran said.

He added that the youth arm of the COP under the leadership of Kieron Samaroo is also studying the dossier released by ACTT.


"It’s scandalous"

More in this section