Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 21st 2013 Contents A5
Saturday, December 21, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Short-listed contractors have not respond-
ed to a request for proposals (RFP) to renovate
the Housing Development Corporation
(HDC) apartment building at Trou Macaque,
Laventille, damaged by fire in December 2011,
because they are afraid for their lives.
"RFPs for the renovation and retrofitting
of the burnt building have not attracted any
submissions or tenders," said Maurisa Findley,
HDC s consultant manager of corporate com-
Four people died and seven were injured
after they jumped from the top floor of the
five-storey building, because there was no fire
escape. The HDC was criticised as a result.
Findley said the HDC invited tenders on
October 11, 2013.
"Restoration of the fire damaged structure
is critical," she said, "as we aim to increase
the availability of units in the community.
"The RFP for the Trou Macaque community
also included the retrofitting of the existing
buildings to facilitate effective emergency exits
in each of them."
Findley said the HDC sent out the RFPs to
specific contractors it believed had the capa-
bility to do the work, but none has respond-
ed.Asked why, she said, "These are typically
difficult areas in which contractors are hard
pressed, sometimes afraid, or feel intimidated
to do business."
She said because of the lack of response
from specific contractors, HDC management
has now decided to throw out an invitation
for the Trou Macaque project to the wider
"The HDC has decided to invite Expressions
of Interest via public advertisement scheduled
for early January, 2014. Any contractor who
feels he can do the job can tender. We are
determined to do the upgrade work," Findley
Laventille is a police listed crime hot spot
where gang killings are frequent and Findley
added, "Many contractors have reported to
the HDC they are ordered to pay protection
or entry tax and have to fork up substantial
sums of money in order to carry out their
"If they don t pay up, they sometimes face
threats, the work is vandalised and they are
often forced to abandon the contract for the
safety of their families."
Findley said for projects to continue in crime
hot spots, the state has to pay increased sums
to cover police protection or position defence
force personnel in the area.
She said it is difficult to find highly-skilled
engineering contractors in the community
who are needed for a project like the renovation
of the Trou Macaque building.
Asked if no gang leader will, therefore, have
a chance of being hired, she replied, "I am
not saying residents are criminals. A lot of
them are skilled."
Well-known Beetham resident Kenneth
"Spanish" Rodriguez had told members of the
media he was the contractor for the police
post project on Duncan Street, Port-of-Spain,
another crime hot spot.
The HDC had strenuously denied this. Find-
ley said they had an approved, certified con-
tractor for that project and that Spanish was
not on their payroll.
Asked why the HDC took two years to get
the ball rolling on the Trou Macaque project,
she said they had been doing assessments and
developing the scope of work for the renovation
and retrofitting of 300 multi-storey buildings
throughout the country, including the one at
"All the buildings had to be carefully exam-
ined from an engineering perspective."
Laventille West MP NiLeung Hypolite said
the HDC has not placed sufficient emphasis
on the Trou Macaque project.
"Right after the fire, the Prime Minister had
promised to start work immediately."
Responding to the safety concerns of con-
tractors, he said there is the option of using
the police and members of the Defence Force,
as was done for the Duncan Street project.
Fire and Safety Programme
After the Trou Macaque fire, managing
director Jearlean John said the HDC planned
to spend approximately $174 million on safety
equipment and impose rigid building safety
Based on the release the Trou Macaque fire
emphasised the need to retrofit its older facil-
ities with adequate fire and emergency escapes.
It said this was part of an extensive fire and
emergency programme undertaken by the
HDC, primarily on multistorey buildings.
The HDC said a wide range of strategies
had been incorporated into the programme to
combat and reduce the incidence and frequency
of fires in its 300 multistorey home complexes
spread across ten zones.
"The HDC conducted condition surveys
and a comprehensive assessment of the pre-
ventative initiatives required for fire and emer-
gency mitigation in its estates.
"Collaborative efforts with the T&T Fire
Service identified requisite solutions and the
scope of work was developed by our project
oversight engineer and the Health and Safety
Unit of the HDC," the release stated.
The scope of the work includes the design
and building of fire escapes in the 300 mul-
tistorey buildings, installing fire hose reels,
standpipes and detection systems, and tenant
training and awareness.
"An evaluation of the submitted proposals
has been conducted for presentation to the
board of directors at the next meeting sched-
uled for January 2014.
"Structural engineering services were also
engaged to conduct condition surveys for the
design and construction of the fire escapes
and they are currently being assessed.
"The results of the condition surveys will
be utilised in the development of the RFPs
for the commencement of this project, early
in 2014," the release stated.
According to the release after the 2011 fire,
the HDC embarked on an aggressive fire pre-
vention awareness strategy aimed at educating
and informing residents of the perils of fire
and other emergencies.
"Our Health and Safety Unit, in conjunction
with the Fire Service, conducted several out-
reach safety and awareness programmes in
communities across the country.
"Residents of Trou Macaque, in particular,
were exposed to fire safety and the use of fire
safety apparatus on May 29, 2012.
"The community was also provided with
20-pound fire extinguishers which are con-
tained in fire safety cabinets along the corridor
of every building.
"Numerous other communities were also
provided with fire extinguishers, smoke detec-
tors and hose reels. Residents were also trained
in the use of these apparatus by our health
and safety officers."
The release said the HDC also engaged the
T&T Electricity Commission and the police
to assist with ongoing investigations into
illegal electrical connections among tenants.
"Official reports on illegal electrical con-
nections, called bridging, are sent to the Fire
Service, the T&TEC and to tenants who are
Short-listed contractors fail to submit proposals...
HDC now opens
project to public Flashback: Fire officials conduct investigations at the scene of the fire in 2011
Flashback: Residents look at the burnt Housing Development Corporation (HDC) apartment building at Trou Macaque, Laventille, after it was
damaged by fire in December, 2011.
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