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$21m to restore roof and walls of Heritage Library

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Project manager at the Heritage Library restoration project, Christopher Lackrajh, second from right, speaks with Minister of Communications Maxie Cuffie, left, during a tour yesterday at the facility, corner of Pembroke and Knox Streets, Port-of-Spain. Also in the photo are Lennox Rattansingh, left, and an unidentified official. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ

The approved budget for phase one of the restoration works of the National Heritage Library in Port-of-Spain is $21 million.

The work in this phase includes the restoration of the roof and walls alone and is due to be completed by May.

Touring the site at the corner of Pembroke and Hart streets, yesterday, Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie estimated that the work would be completed within the stipulated time frame and under budget.

He said: “So far, I think we might be under budget because we have had a change in the scope of works.” Following the brief tour as he addressed reporters, Cuffie added: “I can assure you that it will come in at less.”

He was accompanied by the ministry’s permanent secretary, Angela Edwards, and acting executive director of the National Library and Information System (Nalis) Elizabeth Mahadeo.

He said the library, which was listed as a heritage site by the Council of the National Trust, was “an important project for us.”

Following the restoration work, Cuffie said the building would become home to the Eric Williams Memorial Collection. The collection is currently housed at St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies. 

Built in 1901, the Trinidad Public Library was the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Revealing that this project formed part of the work being done on libraries across the country since 2009, Cuffie said facilities in Couva, Rio Claro and Chaguanas had already undergone restoration work and reopened.

Gesturing to the scaffolding atop which workmen were perched as they continued work, Cuffie said the site was historical as it was the place where Dr Eric Williams first came to the country’s attention.

Adding that phase two of the project would begin in May with a new contractor, he said he was confident in the work currently being done by the project manager, the National Maintenance Training and Security Company (MTS).

Fides Ltd was hired by MTS as the contractor and has since employed Manuel R Vila, a Cuban restoration artist.

MTS project manager Christopher Lackrajh confirmed the work began 14 months ago and was due to be completed with a 24-month period.

He said phase two would include the windows, doors, plumbing, electrical and mechanical fixtures.