NAPA troubles President

The President met with the interim president of the ACTT Rubabiri Victor last Thursday at President’s House, St Ann’s, after the President received a copy of a dossier on the NAPA prepared by the ACTT.

The dossier, which detailed a series of flaws in the design of the building which Victor estimated could cost as much as $80 million to correct, was read by the President this month after it was circulated on the Internet.

Victor yesterday confirmed the meeting with the President.

“We sent the report and I met with him last week Thursday,” he said. “I don’t know if I should divulge the contents of the meeting but the least I will say is that the President was very concerned. He wanted to gather some information.”

ACTT will today hold a press conference at the Communications Workers Union, Port-of-Spain, on the issue of the academy. ACTT is expected to call on the Government to immediately halt the construction of a second academy, currently under construction in San Fernando, in light of the design flaws identified by artists in the Port-of-Spain Academy.

According to an ACTT dossier, penned by Victor after members toured the facility and collated information from technicians who have been inside the structure, there are several defects with the building. These include the fact that: the light and sound boards are analogue and not digital (the industry standard for the last decade); there is no loading area for the main stage; the orchestra pit is defective; the dance studios are flawed; the stage floor is not suitable for dancing.

Over the weekend, chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) Victor Hart, questioned whether the country ever got value for money in relation to the project.

“Among the questions Udecott never answered was did Trinidad and Tobago enjoy any transfer of design technology from the Chinese to build local capacity so that in future our designers could undertake projects of this type without Chinese supervision?

“If the answer to this question is ‘no’ it means that the country may not have gotten value for money and our present and future generations will be burdened with carrying an ‘elephant’ that could become ‘white’ if the country is unable to properly maintain the facility,” he warned.

“We only have to look at the headache the country inherited when the French designed and built the Mt Hope Medical Complex, also under a government-to-government arrangement, and departed our shores never to be heard from again. Today, Mt Hope is a maintenance headache of major proportions for which taxpayers are paying. All Chinese constructed facilities, including the academy, may prove to be a much bigger and more costly maintenance headache for generations to come. If so, who will be held accountable?”

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has described the $500 million Udecott project as scandalous and a “monumental waste of public funds”.


"NAPA troubles President"

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