NAME: Selby Browne
ASSOCIATION: Veteran Football
A lack of funding is responsible for the poor working conditions at City Hall, Knox Street, says Port-of-Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee. Speaking to reporters at the unveiling of the commemorative sign at the Nelson Mandela Park, St Clair, Tim Kee said, “Since last year [City Hall] was supposed to be fixed. We applied for $16 million last year and we didn’t get the money to do that.” Saying he became mayor only six months ago, Tim Kee said he was not responsible for the present condition of City Hall.
“I came here just a few months ago. All you see there was obtained long before my coming and a lot of people are throwing things in my direction, but the condition that it is now in, that didn’t happen overnight. And the addition to the building for the office of the mayor didn’t happen in six months.” He said the corporation was given a small sum for minor repairs to the building. “We got money for very mundane things but nothing substantial, nothing that can be deemed to be capital,” he said.
Tim Kee said the $16 million applied for would be used to upgrade the entire building. On Thursday, led by Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke, city police and public health inspectors at City Hall refused to work, citing unsafe working conditions. Tim Kee said workers had a right to refuse to work under poor health and safety conditions, and the corporation was in the process of finding a place to temporarily relocate them.
“That’s their right. We still live in a democracy, and with the very little resources that we have, which cannot go very far, we are making every effort to make some adjustments.” He said inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (Osha) planned to visit the building and their recommendations would be considered.
Tim Kee said he was in discussions with the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Local Government on funding for renovation work, and also in discussions with the Commissioner of Police to make sure that policing in and around the city was not compromised. Some of the protesting workers, he added, worked on Thursday, although they refused to enter the building. He could not say if the workers came out to work yesterday.
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