Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 6th 2016 Contents 6.0000
for 05TH JANUARY, 2016
Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Wednesday, January 6, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
For breaking news, call 225-4465 Exts 2032, 2033 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the face of a pending
forensic audit into the award
of multi-million dollar con-
tracts by the Water and Sew-
erage Authority (WASA), fire
of an unknown origin yester-
day broke out in the sensitive
record department, destroying
volumes of important files.
The extent of the damage was
undetermined up to press time
and the approximately 1,000
staff members at the WASA St
Joseph head office have been
advised not to report to work
today because the structural
integrity of the building had to
be first determined.
The fire will not affect
WASA s ability to distribute
water to citizens across the
WASA s communications
manager Daniel Plenty, who
hustled back to the scene at the
St Joseph headquarters after
news broke about the fire, told
reporters last night: "We have
no fear of losing records, we
have a backup, we have soft
copies and we have hard copies."
Asked about the possibility
that the fire could have been
intentionally set due to pending
probe into the utility, Plenty
said: "It is not fair to associate
this with the upcoming audit."
About 60 workers who were
still on the compound when the
fire started were evacuated safe-
ly, Plenty said. He said the
workers responded immediately
after the alarm was sounded
but noted it was too early to
say if it was deliberately set.
Staff members appeared to
be in shock as they looked on
as fire officers battled the blaze
on the second floor of the four-
"We are still trying to come
to terms with this," said one
Plenty said the fire began
around 4.45 pm in Block B,
Building 9, which houses the
Health, Safety and Equipment
Department, the Corporate
and Records Department.
Other staff members
described the building as the
main building at the Farm Road
complex and one witness said
every other floor of the building
had been affected either by
smoke or water damage.
Staff said documents relating
to confidential contracts,
including purchases from sup-
pliers and records of the Man-
agement Information System,
were also stored in the Records
Residents who gathered on
the Farm Road sidewalk said
they believed the fire was delib-
erately set to prevent investi-
gators from finding evidence of
"We hear WASA burning.
When we come outside and
watch, we saw the whole of the
second floor in flames," said
One staff member at the
scene said the entire registry,
which had documents relating
to all contractors, was
destroyed. He said when the
auditors came "they will only
Shortly after the fire broke
out, photos of the smoke and
later fire blazing on the second
floor of the building began cir-
culating on social media. Eye-
witnesses said fire officers, using
hydraulic lifts, were able to
douse the flames by 7 pm.
The flames were so intense
it shattered the glass on the
second floor but the gaping
holes gave fire officers a vantage
point to extinguish the blaze.
At least seven fire tenders
responded from the Wrightson
Road, Port-of-Spain headquar-
ters and were assisted by units
from the San Juan station. Four
WASA tankers were on hand to
provide an additional supply of
WASA employees look on from muster points during yesterday's fire which destroyed the company's Records Department. PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
Fixin T&T is expressing concern over allegations
of misconduct in public office against Housing Min-
ister Marlene McDonald and Udecott chairman Noel
"Fixin T&T is deeply concerned by the allegations
levelled against Mc Donald and Garcia," its head Kirk
Waithe said in an interview.
"We note Sturge (attorney Wayne Sturge) has sent
the information he received to the relevant authorities
and look forward to a thorough, efficient and expeditious
investigation. We expect the minister and chairman
will fully co-operate to facilitate same."
Waithe made the comment following a concern
raised by Sturge on Monday and in other sectors of
the public that the pressure group and others like
Transparency International had seemed to have gone
somewhat quiet over the last three months with the
new Government in power.
But Waithe said allegations of that nature cross party
lines and have been too many for too long.
"We reiterate our position that the top priority for
all of our legislators must be to finally put measures
in place to protect our patrimony.
"To this end, the effective implementation of mean-
ingful legislation to govern procurement, campaign
financing, party financing and whistle blowing must
be realised in the shortest possible time," he said.
Sturge recently disclosed information of alleged mis-
behaviour in public office on Mc Donald, People s
National Movement deputy political leader, and Garcia,
a party heavyweight, within days of each other.
He referred Mc Donald to the Integrity Commission
over allegations that she used her office when she was
a minister in a former PNM administration to secure
a Housing Development Corporation house for Michael
Carew, her partner.
Earlier this week, Sturge showed what he claimed
was documentary evidence of over US$20,000 being
wired to Garcia s son, Christian, by contractor Junior
Joseph, owner of Pace Construction Services Ltd
between 2002 and 2005.
Garcia was head of the HDC around that time and
Joseph s company was the recipient of housing con-
Sturge alleged that one contract, originally valued
at $165 million, was jacked up to $286 million. He has
also referred Garcia to the Integrity Commission.
Several calls to TTTI chairman Deryck Murray went
Contacted for comment on the allegations yesterday,
Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie said he would
not be commenting because "there is nothing to com-
Yesterday, political analyst Maukesh Basdeo said the
Prime Minister would be held accountable by concerned
citizens over the allegations.
Basdeo said on the general election campaign trail
prior to September 7, Rowley said he would not tolerate
wrongdoing in his Government and all office holders
would be held accountable for their actions.
He said although the matters involving Mc Donald
and Garcia went back some years there was no statute
of limitation concerning referrals where the Integrity
Commission was concerned.
Fire hits WASA's Records Department
Unfair to link it
The article 'Truck driver
charged with three-year-old
child's death' on Page A8 in
yesterday's paper incorrectly
stated the accused man's
attorney is Ravi Ratiram. The
attorney's name is Kevin
Ratiram. The T&T Guardian
apologises for any
GETTING IT RIGHT
Fixin T&T backs
Links Archive January 5th 2016 January 7th 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page