Uff’s Report, which was handed-in to President George Maxwell Richards last week and published on Easter Sunday exclusively in the Sunday Newsday, also describes the work done by the NAPA contractor Shanghai Construction Group (SCG) at the Prime Minister’s Residence and Diplomatic Centre at Port-of- Spain, as being of a high standard, in the face of concerns over the building expressed by local contractors.
In relation to NAPA, Uff notes, “the Northern academy in particular has been completed to a high standard.”
Uff notes that the Artist Coalition of Trinidad and Tobago’s interim president Rubadiri Victor raised concerns about the lack of consultation on the project, but in Uff’s view these issues were outside the terms of reference of his inquiry.
“The ACTT...complained that consultation on the design and intended use of the building had been inadequate,” Uff notes. “Such considerations are strictly outside the terms of reference of the commission, as are concerns about the proper use of public money.”
However Uff noted that safeguards need to be implemented by the State to ensure that adequate consultations occur on public projects.
“Recognising the need for the Government to govern, it was evident that organised user groups, such as the ACTT, had not been adequately consulted on decisions regarding the Academy of Performing Arts, an omission which Minister (of Works Colm) Imbert recognised.”
“Safeguards need to be introduced to ensure that relevant views can be expressed at the appropriate time and taken into account before decisions are made.” Uff toured the NAPA twice during the course of the inquiry, once while it was under construction, and then after it was opened.
The inquiry chairman notes that there had been a ten-month delay on the project which is likely to result in a further claim by the contractor in excess of the $441million price tag for the project, a claim to be funded from the Infrastructure Development Fund, according to former Udecott executive chairman Calder Hart.
He also notes that the Colonial Club tennis courts, which were cleared unilaterally by SCG staff and Udecott, have to date not been relocated. While there have been concerns about the Prime Minister’s Residence, Uff described that building as being built to “a high standard”. He said he paid one visit there.