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NAPAs falling apart

Minister blames poor Chinese workmanship
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
The National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port-of-Spain, which is expected to undergo repair works that will cost millions. PHOTO: KEITH MATTHEWS

The Northern and Southern National Academies for the Performing Arts are almost “falling down.” Both cultural institutes are in a state of deterioration requiring repairs, says Arts Minister Lincoln Douglas, who says this is due to low grade inferior materials and bad workmanship involved in the original construction. Various items needed to be replaced have to be sourced from China, three months away in terms of ordering and shipping, and therefore light bulbs, for instance, take three months to change.



Douglas detailed the situation in the Senate yesterday but ran out of the allocated reply time since the number of issues affecting the institutions was so long. He said he was holding one list of 19 issues concerning Port-of-Spain and San Fernando, on which a more complete analysis had been done, had over 300 problems.


Douglas said certain repairs for the Port-of-Spain facility have cost $20 million so far and it would cost almost $100 million to make it functional. The ministry has not started dealing with San Fernando facility yet, he added. The minister said the contractor who built the facility in Port-of-Spain was Shanghai Construction, and added: “NAPA is showing some signs of deterioration, in some cases, significant signs of this. 


“Tiles are falling off the building, plumbing is failing due to inferior grade sanitary ware and fittings, the fountain is failing in terms of design and filtration systems. The moving stage shows major defects and continues to be a big problem. It isn’t functioning now.” He said leaks were appearing along the steel pipes, indicating a breakdown of pipes on the assumption inferior pipes were used by the contractor. 


He added: “Valve controls are not working and it is impossible to shut off the water. In some cases, all valves have to be replaced. Doors, which are of inferior quality, are also deteriorating. “Numerous light bulbs have blown and it takes approximately three months to get the bulbs as they have to be imported from China. We suggest they be replaced with some kind that is more accessible. “Electrical voltage is below what is required and a thorough inspection and upgrade of the system is needed.


”The ‘chill water’ air-conditioning unit has also deteriorated and needs urgent repairs.” Douglas said it might be argued that was due to lack of maintenance “but technicians have indicated this is an inferior system and may have to be replaced.” External glazing and glass panels have cracked and a few have fallen off, most related to manufacturing faults, he added. “These also have to be imported from China.” he said. Douglas said there was an agreement with the original contractor over a period and that had expired.


“We are still going though the list of things that are wrong with that building before we can even begin to address the repairs of the building. It’s significant,” he added. Speaking to reporters after, Douglas said: “Both buildings have been left with a significant amount of bad workmanship. Some of the functional problems are inconsistencies. Both NAPA and Southern NAPA stairs have different heights and anyone can fall.”


Douglas said the overall NAPA buildings were functional but from an operations standpoint for the arts, it was a problem. He said the front and two other segments of NAPAs walls were cleaned, though that was a delicate, difficult process. Cleaning of the glass panels was also cost-significant due to polishing required, he added. Douglas said Shanghai Construction was supposed to do maintenance for a period and that expired. 


He said there was also a contract with the company but that also ended and there was a small transfer of skills but no real training in how to run the building. He said NAPA was closed from December to March to fix various issues. He said the ministry would be dealing with getting funding for repairs for both. “We are doing a comprehensive analysis of both to see what is needed to bring them up to full functional standards,” he added.


 Douglas agreed that would be learning experience for T&T, especially with the Couva Children’s Hospital being built by Chinese expertise.


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