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Work on President’s House yet to begin
The answer was “no” all around when the T&T Guardian contacted the Ministries of Works and Infrastructure and National Diversity and Social Integration yesterday to find out if President’s House would be fixed in time for the new President. The electoral college will meet next Friday to choose a president.
Director of construction in the Ministry of Works Zanim Ali said in a telephone interview work was expected to begin on President’s House this year but he could not say when. Part of the roof at President's House collapsed in May 2010 and since then only temporary preventative work had been carried out. Ali said the walls were braced to prevent further collapse last year. This entailed propping up the walls, which are fragile and unsupported.
The temporary roof, which Ali said would prevent further water damage, was erected in January 2012. If work begins on President’s House this year, he said, it would take approximately a year to complete. Ali said there were many reasons why the President’s House restoration was not yet complete.
He admitted that the building was at risk for further deterioration and collapse and said the ministry had spent considerable time figuring out if the building could be saved, adding that partial demolition was considered before a foreign consultant was hired to inspect the building in 2011.
Ali also said the ministry had to renegotiate with the design consultants who last created a design for the building’s restoration in 2007. The partial collapse in 2010 meant a new design had to be made, said Ali.
Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Clifton De Coteau wants the responsibility to be transfered to his ministry. He said in a telephone interview when his ministry was created in June last year, responsibility for heritage sites was transferred to it. Heritage buildings, however, remain in the remit of the Works Ministry. De Coteau was adamant that if this responsibility were transferred to National Diversity, the restoration would be carried out sooner.
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