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It’s not business as usual at Udecott

Published: 
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Housing Minister warns:
Public servant Ann Marie John, right, and her son, Andy, receive the keys to their new home from Housing and the Environment Minister Roodal Moonilal, centre, and president of the Public Services PSA Watson Duke, left, during the presentation of keys ceremony for public servants under the PSA at the association head office, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON

Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal says business will not be as usual at the Urban Development Company of T&T (Udecott). He said so yesterday in response to Government’s decision to remove Udecott from the Ministry of Planning and Economic and Social Restructuring and Gender Affairs to the Housing Ministry. The announcement of the shift was made last week by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Moonilal was speaking to the media yesterday after presenting 39 HDC homes to public servants at the head office of the Public Services Association, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain.

Pressed by the media about the current state of Udecott, Moonilal said: “Udecott was run like a Calder Hart estate.” He said he would meet this week with the board of Udecott and its management to determine the status of the unfinished Legal Affairs Towers in Port-of-Spain. Udecott chairman Jearlean John toured the towers and the Ministry of Education building, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, on May 13 to determine what outstanding work needed to be done. CH Development—owned by Calder Hart—was awarded the $368 million contract under the former administration to build the towers.

Sunway construction was awarded a $300 million contract to provide all the interior fittings and additional work on the towers. The minister said he had cautioned the board of Udecott and management, “it will not be business as usual.” He said his ministry was trying to introduce instrumental changes within the state entity to ensure all processes of Udecott were transparent. Moonilal said, given the multi-million dollar nature of Udecott, his ministry was working to make contracts awarded for projects smaller.

He said smaller contracts would allow for the greater involvement of local contractors versus foreign contractors which previously dominated all projects being done by Udecott. Moonilal said to ensure transparency, the procurement processes and invitations to bid would be done publicly.

The homes were delivered through a provision for housing within the Public Services Association’s wage agreement with Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) Stephanie Lewis. The houses handed over were from HDC developments in Port-of-Spain, Chaguanas and south Trinidad. Watson Duke said the new homeowners had been on the HDC waiting lists for over ten years, had families or did not have permanent housing.

Reporting by Alicia Llanos

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