Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 21st 2014 Contents A5
September 21, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
The Housing Development Cor-
poration (HDC) has spent more
than $500 million on remedial
work, refurbishment, waste water
treatment plants and lift stations
at several HDC sites in the last four
Housing Minister Dr Roodal
Moonilal said poor workmanship by
contractors on several housing estates
prior to 2010 has resulted in HDC
having to fork out millions of dol-
Areas which were affected by
shoddy work, Moonilal said, are Gol-
conda, Retrench, Lion Gates,
Wellington, Couva and Mayaro.
"There were a lot of shoddy work
and inefficiencies. In fact, in estates
like Wellington and Retrench, we
had to do emergency infrastructure
work. The shell of several houses
were built on shifting cane lands.
When I came in as minister, the last
thing I expected was to spend mil-
lions on remedial work."
Moonilal spoke of eight houses in
Retrench, which were on the verge
He said each house needed a
retaining wall which could cost
between $4 to $5 million.
Asked if it would be cheaper for
Government to shut down this hous-
ing estate, Moonilal said "one of the
problems is that the taxpayer could
lose more by shutting down an estate
because billions have been spent on
housing. You would not want to
expend billions of dollars on housing
and then not spend a couple millions
to fix it."
Moonilal said in 2010 a remedial
unit began to treat with repairs to
units allocated to new homeowners,
as well as repairs to units allocated
under the PNM that were deemed
"So far, we have spent over $100
million in remedial work. I am now
focusing, having cleaned up the mess
that I inherited."
The minister also discovered cases
where the PNM had built houses on
private lands, which has delayed the
"There are housing on the maps
at the HDC office and when you go
in the field, none is there. The HDC
under the PNM was this rogue entity
that operated with political instruc-
tions of build and distribute."
Moonilal said several HDC sites
were also constructed without water
and electricity connections and infra-
"To date, we have spent $84 mil-
lion ensuring the installation of
waste water facilities in 12 key areas.
The failure to adequately manage
each project because of systemic
inadequacies and inconsistencies,
coupled with quality human
resource imbalance, resulted in a
failed framework of oversight. So
that all those vacant houses you
saw dotting the landscape through-
out Trinidad and Tobago are unfor-
tunate, but a very real representa-
tion of the effects of these
inadequacies. Most are now being
outfitted with infrastructural works
and waste water facilities."
He said he was also shocked to
learn that many of the sites lacked
approvals, oversight and proper
"In a way, contractors were
allowed to do anything they want-
Moonilal said action could not
have been taken against contractors
since the deadline date for the con-
tracts had elapsed.
"So there was little we could have
The HDC also had to fork out over
$112 million on the completion of
16 waste water treatment plants and
15 waste water lift stations on 18
Wastewater lift stations are facil-
ities designed to move wastewater
from lower to higher elevation.
Moonilal said another $150 million
was injected in the completion of
remedial and refurbishment works
to over 200 HDC apartment build-
ings, spanning from Port-of-Spain
to San Fernando.
In the next fiscal year, Moonilal
said the HDC will expend $200 mil-
lion to retrofit 117 buildings across
Monies were also spent on the
installation of solar lighting at some
sites, and they plan to retrofit 422
buildings for fire.
'Bad work by contractors, poor oversight on projects'...
HDC spends $500m
on remedials, upgrades
Approximately 5,008 housing units are
expected to be distributed by the Housing
Development Corporation (HDC) between
2014 to 2016.
As an early gift to housing applicants, the
HDC will give out 1,000 of the 5,008 units
Though the houses will be handed out
before, leading up to and after the 2015 general
election, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal
said he will not shut down or cut back on the
distribution exercise to please the People s
National Movement (PNM) since he intends
to reduce the 160,000 applicants waiting in
line for shelter.
Indicating that the backlog was a worrying
concern, Moonilal said he expected the PNM
to say the houses will be handed out in time
for next year s election to muster votes, "but
they can say what the want."
Moonilal said, "The things is, we cannot
stop distribution of houses because it is an
election year. What do we do? Do we shut
down the Government in an election year and
say we not giving anybody a housing grant,
a house or old age pension. Should we wait
after the election? When we talk to people
they actually say give us our house now
because they don t know if the PNM would
come back in power and they would not get
In years gone by, Moonilal said, houses were
given to individuals who either owned a PNM
party card or associated with the political
"Today, if you go to any HDC estate you
would see people of every race, colour, religion
and class occupying these homes. You would
see Hindu and Baptist flags in front of homes.
That is something you would have never seen
before because people felt they were not being
treated equally and fairly."
Sifting through a wad of documents on
Wednesday at his Port-of-Spain office, Mooni-
lal gave a breakdown of how his ministry
intended to distribute the duplexes, town-
houses, apartments and condominiums in the
In the past four years, Moonilal said, HDC
has been working to distribute approximately
13,000 units from 53 sites, but managed to
give out only 4,500 units.
Delivery, he said, was delayed by a number
of factors, mainly lack of installation of water
treatment plants and electrification on project
Moonilal also claimed that between May
and July of this year, the HDC started 15 new
housing projects in Arima, Arouca, Union Hall,
Princes Town, Couva and Victoria Keyes, which
will yield an additional 4,500 units.
Two projects---Trestrail Housing Develop-
ment in Arima, and Indian Trail in Couva, are
expected to churn out 1,204 and 920 units
The duration of the 15 projects ranged from
six to 36 months.
Of the $2.8 billion that was allocated to the
Ministry of Housing and Urban Development,
Moonilal said "we have requested over $1
billion towards HDC s accelerated housing
Moonilal said the cost of constructing a
house had skyrocketed over the last ten years,
with an average three-bedroom unit costing
$350,000 by the State, and on average $1 mil-
lion by the private sector.
He said to reduce the list of housing appli-
cants, the HDC will work in partnership with
"We are asking the private sector to work
with us using their own financing to build
houses and the HDC will allocate recipients
through the State. So we do not have to build
and invest. But we will subsidise the applicant s
He said the Government will pay the subsidy
for the HDC homes as well as provide
favourable conditions for private buyers.
"If they get the private sector participation
in the next ten to 15 years, the Government
can make a big dent in reducing the waiting
Optimistic that the PP Government would
enter their second term in office, Moonilal
said the HDC has plans to build units using
creative approaches to maximise land space.
1,000 houses for Christmas
...4,008 more by 2016
• Between 2011-2012, Moonilal said the HDC
gave out 2,688 units.
• For 2012 to 2013, a total of 1,977 individuals
were recipients of new homes, while in 2013 to
2014 the figure jumped to 2,141.
• Moonilal said for 2014 to 2015, an additional
2,280 will become new home owners and by
2015 to 2016 approximately 2,728 units to be
• He said Union Hall will have the largest
distribution with 1,080 units over the next two
years. Trailing behind is Couva, with 515 units.
Enterprise is third with 429.
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