Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 21st 2013 Contents A9
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Vice-president of the T&T Contrac-
tors Association (TTCA) Ramlogan
Roopnarinesingh says Government s
failure to honour $1 billion in payments
to local contractors is responsible for
an increase in unemployment and
Commenting on an article in Mon-
day s T&T Guardian which highlighted
Government s debt owed to contractors
developing lands at Petit Morne, Ste
Madeleine and Cedar Hill, Princes Town,
he called on Government make the pay-
Both sites are being developed by the
Estate Management and Business Devel-
opment Company Limited (EMBD) for
the relocation of residents living in the
path of the San Fernando to Point Fortin
He said the construction industry
already was crippled by a lack of oppor-
tunities while interest on loans taken
to finance projects continued to increase.
Roopnarinesingh asked: "Why is it
that Government is doing work and
does not have the finances available to
pay the contractors? They have been
asking the contractors to continue until
they assess the finances.
Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal
told the T&T Guardian last week small
payments would be made this week.
However, he said, claims amounting
to $300 million by Namalco Construc-
tion Services Limited, LCB Contractors
Limited and BBFL Civil Limited for
work done on the EMBD sites were
Roopnarinesingh said 17 per cent of
T&T s labour force relied on the con-
struction industry for jobs but as con-
tractors await payment, they are forced
to retrench workers.
That trend, he said, increased unem-
ployment and, indirectly, crime.
He added: "The local construction
industry is basically crippled. It is the
Government and then the construction
industry who employs people.
"The thing with the construction
industry is everyone benefits. From the
engineers, architects and designers,
come straight down to the man on the
street... the masons, the labourers,
"When contractors are not paid, you
will see they are owing the bank and
there will be unemployment.
"Because of unemployment people
cannot provide for their family and it
is one of the reasons you have this high
murder rate," Roopnarinesingh said.
Already, Namalco has retrenched 250
workers as a result of non-payment
with project manager Lenny Sookram
saying more cutbacks may come soon.
"This has been happening to a lot of
contractors. Contractors are shutting
down and they are going into receiver-
ship. A lot of the established contractors
are not getting work and the ones that
are at work are not being paid.
"You see it on television, people are
saying if they get jobs the crime will
When foreign firms are given large
projects, the bulk of the payment is
repatriated to their home country,
according to Roopnarinesingh. He said
Government s awarding of major jobs
to these contractors would lead to the
demise of the local construction indus-
He added: "Our future generation,
people who aren t even born yet, will
be born into debt.
"All the major projects which are
being given to the foreign contractors
in the government-to-government
agreements, that is also crippling the
"In the meantime, our local contrac-
tors are suffering. They are killing the
local construction industry to benefit
Roopnarinesingh also lamented the
lack of proper surveys. He said black
organic material found embedded in
the soil at the Petit Morne site would
raise the cost of construction.
During a site visit last week, one
expert said the EMBD did not conduct
a geotechnical survey on the site to
determine whether the land was suitable
He said the land was a former cane-
field which meant it was layered with
clay. He also recalled that refuse from
the old Usine factory in Ste Madeleine
would be dumped at the site during
Caroni s 1975 Limited s operation.
He added: "I remember what Usine
used to do in the back there, they would
dump waste products. That product
was a by-product from the cane when
they manufactured sugar.
"They said no geotechnical survey
was done. All those things were sup-
posed to be done because all those things
extend the cost of your construction.
When that happens, for you to get paid
for that, it is a variation that the engineer
on site has to approve."
However, he said, contractors at the
site compounded their financial woes
by continuing to work although they
knew finances were not allocated by
Ecuador has offered to help T&T address issues
related to people with disabilities.
Ecuadorian Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patino
Aroca was in T&T yesterday to discuss multi-lateral and
bi-lateral areas with Foreign Affairs Minister Winston
Speaking to the media after their meeting, Aroca said
Ecuador was willing to offer T&T technical assistance
with issues related to people with disabilities because
the country had substantial experience in that area.
In 2008, Lenin Moreno, Ecuador s former vice-pres-
ident, who was paraplegic, implemented the Ecuador
Without Borders programme, which was included in the
country s constitution in 2008
The report added: "The government launched pro-
grammes to research the causes and numbers of disabilities
across the country. Ecuadorean doctors, helped by their
Cuban peers, visited every village in Ecuador to establish
how many people had disabilities and what help they
"The government recognised that approximately
295,000 people have a disability (just over two per cent
of the total population) and sent out technical assistance
to those in need; free wheelchairs were handed out as
well as health and housing support.
"Moreover, starting in 2010, it became compulsory
for companies with over 25 employees to fill at least four
percent of staff positions with people with disabilities.
Ecuador plans to take initiatives to place before the
UN a resolution to draw more global resources to handle
the issues of disability, Aroca said.
Dookeran congratulated Ecuador and welcomed its
offer of technical support with respect to disability. Among
the tangible benefits to be gained, Dookeran said, was
an exchange of technical expertise.
He said the issue of people with disabilities was an
important one which was raised in a special meeting
during the 34th meeting of Caricom s Conference of
Heads of Governments in T&T last month and chaired
by T&T Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
"We have talked about the relationship between our
countries and multi-national corporations that, at times,
is not an equitable relationship.
"And so we talked about establishing links and dialogue
of dealing with the multi-national corporations," Aroca
told the media at yesterday s press conference at the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Waterfront
Ecuador to assist T&T with disabled
Contractors link Govt's unpaid $$ with crime
Major projects awarded to
• The San Fernando to Point
Fortin highway is being done by
OAS Contructura, Brazil
• The Couva children's hospital
awarded to Shanghai
Construction Limited, China
• The Penal hospital is being
designed by Canadian firm SNC
T&T's Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, left, chats with Ecuador's
Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patino Aroca during a media conference at the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Waterfront Complex, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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