Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 23rd 2015 Contents A8
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, May 23, 2015
The Housing Development Corporation
(HDC) paid $89,996,389.80 for 60 habitable
units at the Las Alturas housing development
This, even after the original contract between
the Urban Development Corporation of TT
(Udecott) and contractor China Jiangsu Inter-
national Corporation (CJIC) agreed on the
construction of 134 units at a cost of $65 mil-
lion VAT exclusive, said architect Deon Camp-
bell yesterday at the Commission of Enquiry,
at the Caribbean Court of Justice, Henry Street,
He said the contract was varied in July 2008
for the construction of 132 units at a cost of
Campbell, of Civil Engineering Management
and Services (CEMAS), was responding to
questions from the commission's lead attorney,
Pamela Elder, SC, regarding the cost of the
housing project at Lady Young Road, Morvant,
which was expanded to include buildings H,
Confirming that J was never constructed,
which left the housing scheme 24 units fewer
than originally planned, Campbell said the
final amount paid ought to have been much
less as the units were further reduced to 108.
Continuing to press Campbell for confir-
mation of certain information, Elder said with
buildings H and I not being habitable, another
48 units were lost, thus reducing the number
of units to 60, to which Campbell agreed.
Unable to say exactly how much was actually
paid to CJIC, Campbell said this figure would
only be for works that were carried out.
Meanwhile, the team of attorneys repre-
senting Geotech Associates Limited (GA)---
which has yet to file a witness statement in
the matter---led by Justin Phelps reappeared
yesterday and objected to a former Udecott
director being allowed to take the witness
stand in his personal capacity as they claimed
that his personal interpretation of a Udecott
board meeting contained language that painted
their client in a negative light.
Revealing that attorney and former founding
board member of Udecott, John Mair, had
prepared and tendered a witness statement
after being contacted by the commission, Elder
said Mair was prepared to be cross-examined
by any of the attorneys appearing in the
Mair was instructed to read his statement
into the record by commission chairman
Among the items listed in his statement
were condensed versions of two Udecott board
meetings which took place on March 31, 2004,
and March 24, 2005, respectively.
During the first meeting, Mair revealed,
Udecott had agreed to award CJIC the $67
million contract for the construction of 297
housing units, whereas they expressed concerns
during the 2005 meeting about the information
provided by GA regarding geotechnical testing
at the controversial site.
Although Mair was not called as a witness
by Udecott's attorneys and is testifying in his
personal capacity, Ibrahim said his testimony
could prove to be valuable to the enquiry as
Mair was employed at Udecott from July 2002
to December 2005.
Questioning Mair, Udecott's lead attorney
Richard Mason produced minutes of the two
meetings mentioned by Mair.
Confirming that during the March 2004
meeting the board had considered two issues
including the provision of 297 units and the
award of the contract to CJIC which had sub-
mitted the lowest bid, Mair said he did not
recall the criteria used to determine property
acquisition. Mair is expected to return for fur-
ther examination when the fourth evidentiary
hearing gets underway on June 15.
For the first time in T&T, some
388 squatters have been granted
199-year leases for their land.
The former squatters, who were
already given certificates of comfort
by the State, collected their leases
from the Ministry of Land and
Marine Resources at a function at
Centre Pointe Mall, Chaguanas, on
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar, who was listed as the fea-
ture speaker, did not make it to the
event after she fell ill.
Land and Marine Resources Min-
ister Jairam Seemungal said this was
only the first stage, and assured
thousands of other citizens who had
been squatting on state lands that
they would be given leases.
Addressing the new land owners,
Seemungal said thousands had been
squatting on state land for decades,
not because they wanted to break
the law but because they had no
They lived in forested areas with-
out paved roads, electricity or pipe-
Stories have been told of people
walking along muddy tracks in tall
boots, taking their children to school
on their backs.
Seemungal responded to critics
of his land distribution programme.
"They have been coming down
on me and my ministry saying we
are giving away all the land in the
"But I want them to say who is
more deserving than needy citizens
who lived all their lives in the most
"What should have been done 15
years ago started only in 2010," he
said, adding that some squatting
communities has already been reg-
ularised and have their own schools,
paved roads and electricity.
"The last administration stifled
the Land Settlement Agency (LSA)
for ten years so no squatter could
receive entitlements to lands,"
He recalled an intense period of
demolition of squatters' houses
between 2006 and 2008.
"Before the cock crowed, they
would come and break your house
and put everything by the road.
"Instead of giving you security of
tenure, they chose to put you out
on the streets with your baby."
Seemungal said in 2008, Persad-
Bissessar went to court to represent
100 squatters whose houses were
The court ruled the LSA acted
outside of its jurisdiction.
He said under the present admin-
istration 8,000 squatters were given
certificates of comfort.
Of those, 7,000 investigations
have been completed.
The 388 who were given leases
can use them to get grants and loans
to construct or reconstruct their
houses, Seemungal said.
Architect tells commission:
$90m for 60 apartments
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AT A GLANCE
388 squatters get 199-year leases from state
Radrica Pitti signs her lease during a lease distribution ceremony at Centre
Point Mall, Chaguanas, on Thursday. Looking on, at centre, is Minister of
Land and Marine Resources Jairam Seemungal and Nisha Mathura Allahar,
chairman of the Land Settlement Agency. BAB A
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