As the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) embarks on new housing projects across the country, Housing and the Environment Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal says a new building code will be taken to Cabinet next month to ensure all contractors adhere to proper standards. Moonilal said so after touring several HDC sites in central Trinidad, including Roystonia and Exchange Gardens. HDC's managing director, Jearlean John, who accompanied Moonilal on the tour, found many of the houses unfinished, even though contractors had been paid for the jobs by the last Government. Asked what was being done to ensure contractors did not hoodwink the Government for a second time, Moonilal said he planned to increase the institutional capacity of the HDC so that professionals could closely monitor new projects.
He also said meetings were being held with the Ministry of Planning and the Ministry of Local Government to develop a new building code. "Last week, we held a round-table meeting with several interest groups to discuss the building code and we have decided to have a National Building Code outside of the Bureau of Standards so that contractors could abide by that," Moonilal said. "We must first have Cabinet approval to make the building code a Government policy. "The development of a building code is critical to get quality from contractors, both small and big. "Apart from that we also have to develop the institutional capacity of the HDC to have high quality people who can monitor quality and standards."
Moonilal said next week, HDC and Udecott would hold a media conference to discuss the recommendations of the Uff Commission of Enquiry. He said the HDC had been a victim of unscrupulous contractors. "We have had cases where contractors got monies up front...They were asked to build 50 houses and they finished 34 and then money ran out and they asked for more money," he said. "There were problems with quality as well." Moonilal said some HDC settlements, including Couva, Roystonia and Exchange, would be completed before Christmas and deserving families would be given their new homes. He also said $750 million in outstanding payments had already been made to contractors.