Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 30th 2017 Contents A6 news
guardian.co.tt Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Two weeks after sod-turning
No work yet on highway project
Two weeks after Prime Minister
Dr Keith Rowley turned the sod to
recommission the Solomon Hochoy
highway project to Point Fortin, the
site remains devoid of any sign of
When the T&T Guardian visited the
site where Rowley and Works Minister
Rohan Sinanan turned the sod along the
South Trunk Road in La Romaine yester-
day, two Junior Sammy-branded con-
tainers were the only equipment present.
At several points along the South
Trunk Road, La Romaine, where con-
struction had been ongoing before the
previous contractor OAS Construtora
shut down its operations in 2015, heaps
of garbage have been dumped.
At the site immediately before the
Godineau Bridge, there was a pile of used
tyres and a lone piece of rusted steel was
the only construction material on site.
Grass has overgrown much of the site
and there is a lone sign warning truck
drivers to keep within a ten-mile-per-
hour speed limit.
At the May 16 recommissioning, Si-
nanan said Cabinet had granted the ap-
proval for the continuation of the project
When contacted yesterday, Sinanan
said the contracts had already been
"The contractor may have been do-
ing some preparation work, I'm not sure
exactly what they have been doing but
I am sure they will have some levels to
do before they go on site," Sinanan said.
He said he was sure that the contractor
would have work to do before the actual
Asked how long that process might
take, Sinanan directed further questions
to National Infrastructure Development
Company Limited (NIDCO) deputy
chairman Stephen Gardiner.
However, calls to Gardiner's cellphone
went unanswered yesterday.
The $7 billion project was started un-
der the People's Partnership government
in March, 2011 and when worked stopped
in December, 2015, the project was re-
portedly 49 per cent complete.
The extension project was designed
to connect the city of San Fernando
at Golconda to the southern towns of
Debe, Penal, Siparia, Fyzabad, La Brea
and Point Fortin, via the highway.
The ruling PNM government fired
Brazilian firm OAS in June, 2016 and
by September, 2016, NIDCO had invited
tenders to resume construction of the
119 OJT admins sacked
The Communication Workers
Union (CWU) has accused the
Government of attacking work-
ers on all fronts following the re-
trenchment of 119 administrators
assignedto the On-The-Job(OJT)
programme which falls under the
Ministry of Labour.
CWU President John Julien prom-
ised to battle with the Government
for their reinstatement and ensure
they received money owed to them.
Addressing some of the workers
and the media during a press confer-
ence at the Cipriani College of Labour
and Co-Operative Studies, Valsayn
yesterday, Julien said the rationale
used to retrench the workers was
baseless and without merit.
Workers from Port-of-Spain,
Chaguanas and San Fernando
learned of their fate only last Friday,
after being directed to collect their
cheques at the College. Julien said
while all 119 persons were paid, there
was a huge discrepancy regarding the
He said that prior to the 2015 gen-
eral election, the workers should have
been considered for permanent ap-
Failing this, Julien said, when the
People's National Movement (PNM)
assumed office, some workers were
allowed to continue working accord-
ing to their existing terms and condi-
tions while three-year contracts were
awarded to new employees entering
the system for the period 2015 to 2018.
The retrenched workers included
clerks, administrative assistants,pay-
roll personnel, human resource spe-
cialists and employment organisers.
Julien said the workers were re-
sponsible for the placement and
payment of the over 4,000 OJT
employees that were currently in
Julien said similar situations had
been taking place involving workers
at Tourism Development Company,
Caroni Green Ltd and the Govern-
ment Human Resource Services
Company Limited (GHRS).
He said the latest group of work-
ers was informed in February that
there was going to be a reorganisa-
tion detailing the roles, functions and
responsibilities of employees and that
staff would be reduced.
Julien said this was not the case,
as all 119 workers received termina-
tion letters and were told to reapply
He accused the Minister of Labour
Jennifer Baptiste-Primus of deliver-
ing a death sentence to the workers.
He said while the job titles had been
changed, the scope and functions of
work had remained the same thereby
highlighting the fact that the posts
had not been made redundant.
Pointing to the huge gaps in the
payment of severance benefits,Julien
said persons who had been offered
contracts after the PNM assumed
office in 2015, had their contracts
bought out to the tune of hundreds
of thousands of dollars.
He said those workers would have
been paid more than $150,000 each,
while employees who had been work-
ing for close to eight years and more
had only received one year's severance
in varying amounts but not exceeding
$30,000 in some of the cases.
He demanded an urgent meeting
with Baptiste-Primus to clarify the
issues that had arisen.
Julien said the union was prepared
to follow the necessary procedures
before the matter reached the Indus-
CWU's Ag Secretary General,
Clyde Elder, described the situation
as "disheartening" as he said Gov-
ernment had been imploring the
private sector to explore other ways
of generating revenue and reducing
costs,instead of retrenching workers.
He said the Government was not
following this advice as they seemed
hell-bent on sending workers home
every time they had a chance.
Ex-TTUTA official joins Teaching Service Commission
A former executive member
of the T&T Unified Teachers'
Association (TTUTA) with
more than 40 years experience
in education was sworn on yes-
terday as the newest member of
the Teaching Service Commis-
Alan Noriega was sworn in at
a brief ceremony at the Office of
the President, St Ann's. After ad-
ministering the oath, President
Anthony Carmona told him to be
prepared for the "slings and arrows
that come with the job that you are
The President said many profes-
sionals are demanding perfection
and he wished"with the same kind
of excellence and perfection they
demand of public officers, they
likewise do so in their various
professions, whether it is teaching,
engineering, medicine, the media,
whatever. If you want to demand
perfection of someone, please try
to get there yourself."
After the ceremony, Noriega
said he is confident he can make
a positive contribution in his new
capacity. He noted the "signifi-
cant number of complaints about
teacher productivity, work ethic
and teacher indiscipline" which
he said cannot be swept under the
"We have to look at a very signif-
icant stakeholder in the association
to see how they could govern their
members so that they spend less
time on the pavements and more
time around the table discussing
solutions," he said.
TSC chairman Dr Fazal Ali said
the Commission needs more re-
"We definitely need more staff.
We need more money for psycho-
metric assessment of people apply-
ing to the Government service and
we need better IT support,"he said.
Ali said the TSC is dealing with
more reports of indiscipline in
schools and in keeping with the
Government's Vision 2030 doc-
ument is "trying to step up the
quality, the rate at which we can
do our work and we are also try-
ing to introduce new methods of
Chairman of the Teaching Service Commission Dr Fazal Ali, left,
congratulates the commission's newest member, Allan Noriega
following his swearing-in ceremony at the Office of the President in
St Ann's, yesterday. PHOTO: ANISTO ALVES
Former employees of the On-the-Job Training staff, Ellenmae Sobian
and Rachael Diaz, leave the Cipriani Labour College, Churchill Roosevelt
Highway, Valsayn, yesterday, after collecting their termination letters
from officials attached to the National Training Agency.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
The site along the South Trunk Road, La Romaine where Prime Minister Dr Keith
Rowley and Works Minister Rohan Sinanan turned the sod to restart work on the
highway on May 16th. Up until yesterday, there was no activity on the site.
PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
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