Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 13th 2014 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Saturday, December 13, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The term of the National Infrastructure Devel-
opment Company's (Nidco) board of directors has
expired, leaving the protracted multi-million dol-
lar Curepe Interchange Project stalled until next
The T&T Guardian also understands that the
Nidco board held its final directors meeting on
Thursday and it was only then that the outgoing
board was apprised of the continuing stalemate be-
tween the negotiation committee and Lutch-
meesingh Transport Contractors (LTC), the second
ranked contractor for the overdue project.
In a brief interview yesterday, Nidco president Dr
Carson Charles confirmed the board term had
ended without a decision on the interchange proj-
ect.The outgoing board was chaired by Krishendath
Ramoutar while Prof. Winston Suite was deputy
chair. Other former board directors included Man-
davi Tiwary, Reneelise Khan, Hilda Goodial, Vanda
Thomas-Lync, Ramzan Hosein, Rabindra Outar,
David de Souza, Peter Ramadhar, Amrish Maharaj
and Hollis Eversley.
Though there are several projects under Nidco's
remit, it is the Curepe Interchange Project that gar-
nered the most attention after junior minister in the
Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Stacy Roop-
narine, wrote to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar on September 2 expressing concern that
her boss, Dr Surujrattan Rambachan, was involved
in and influencing board level decisions with regards
to contractor selection for the project.
Though Roopnarine later cleared the air, saying
that the process of selection was only brought to
her attention after her letter was made public,
Rambachan has refused to comment on the issue
to the media.
In a previous interview, Rambachan did not com-
ment on whether he met with the board on Sep-
tember 2, 2014, but the T&T Guardian received a
copy of board minutes labelled "6.4 Director's meet-
ing with Minister Surujrattan Rambachan." That
document stated that the chairman, Ramoutar, in-
formed the board that Rambachan "invited" them
to a meeting on September 2 "to discuss "several
urgent project management and procurement is-
Charles also confirmed to the T&T Guardian that
there were not going to be any further discussions
with Vinci Construction on the Curepe Interchange
project. He also confirmed that Vinci will not be con-
sidered for this project.
"We cannot be in negotiations with one company
and keep the door open with another. There is no
way we can continue talks with Vinci," Charles said.
In November 2012, with the Grand Bazaar project
nearing completion, Nidco president Dr Carson
Charles said he expected to proceed with the
Curepe Interchange as soon as the Grand Bazaar In-
terchange was handed over.
By October 2013, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar opened the Grand Bazaar Interchange
and said then that the Curepe Interchange project
was expected to begin by January 2014.
HISTORY OF INTERCHANGE
The Ministry of Sport dropped the ball
yesterday, as it failed to fulfill a promise to
fund a sports trip for 81 young people to
take part in a charity football tournament
The tournament, which is hosted by former
Barbadian MP Hamilton Lashley, will start
today and end next Friday.
But after most of the children spent hours
on the pavement in front of the ministry s
Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain, head-
quarters yesterday, businessman Dino Kalloo,
of Kallco Ltd, ensured they got an early
Christmas gift by coming in at the last minute
to fund 24 of the 81 athletes. The ministry
eventually agreed to fund the other 57, after
haggling over numbers for most of the day.
Two months earlier, on October 27, coach
Cedric Hazelwood contacted the ministry to
arrange funding for 120 players to participate
in the Caribbean Children s Charity Shield
Classic (CCCC) Tournament in Barbados.
The ministry, at the time, noted that some
of the 120 players did not have passports
and asked him to resubmit a list.
Parents applied for passports, some paying
$550 to expedite the process so their children
would be able to participate. Parents also
contributed $2,000 per child for food and
board as well as additional expenses.
Parents arranged passports and a finalised
list was sent to the ministry on December
8. Yesterday morning, however, a plane with
their supplies and equipment left for Barbados
without the children.
The disappointed children, from Morvant
Element, Laventille United and Belmont Boys
RC Secondary Football Academy, and their
coach later congregated outside the ministry,
some sitting on the sidewalk, as they sought
answers from the ministry. They were initially
told the ministry could only fund 20 of 81
tickets. Tearful and frustrated, the athletes,
whose ages ranged from 10 to 17, remained
on the sidewalk but were ignored for the
most part by ministry officials.
"They told us up to yesterday that every-
thing was fine. How could they tell us that
yesterday and then tell us we have to choose
20 children to go? How do we choose 20
children," asked parent Marcia Charles.
A security guard attached to the ministry
could be heard complaining about the chil-
dren s noise and asking why they did not
Parents expressed their frustration silently,
pacing back and forth as they compared the
situation to the lack of funding for the T&T
National Women s team which caused sig-
nificant embarrassment to the country in
Businessman saves day for footballers
Ministry fails athletes again
In a late press release, the Ministry of
Sport blamed the inconsistency
regarding the number of tickets
promised on the organisers not
providing the list of names of attendees
in a timely manner.
"The current situation arose because
of the late submission of pertinent
information to the ministry by the
requesting organisation. Negotiations
have resulted in the Ministry and
SPORTT rendering assistance to 57
persons for travel to Barbados to
participate in the tournament
"The list was revised from 120 to 81
persons to attend, representing three
teams," the release said.
The release said there were also
issues concerning travel arrangements
as there was no cover letter for the
request and no permission letters for
travel from parents.
The story is not a new one, as athletes
have continuously complained about
shoddy treatment from the ministry. As
the day progressed, the children, restless
and hungry, patiently waited.
A policeman who had helped transport
them donated $300 to purchase lunch.
The coach attended meeting after
meeting, and former MP Lashley called
from Barbados to ask the ministry to
provide assistance to the team. By 6 pm,
most of the children piled into a waiting bus
and went home.
The ministry had confirmed that it would
pay for 40 children, SPORTT agreed to pay
for an additional 17.
Less than an hour later, businessman
Kalloo, who was called by a radio station
and told of the situation, said he would
purchase the remaining 24 tickets. Kalloo
confirmed this when contacted by the
"I was asked to help out so I said that I
would pay the difference. It's Christmas and
they shouldn't have to be disappointed like
that," he said in a telephone interview.
Parents expressed gratitude to Kalloo
but complained about the ministry's
Prison officers stand
guard outside the
on Frederick Street
during a search for
contraband items last
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