Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 29th 2014 Contents A5
June 29, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Confusion surrounds the purchase of a
$1 million toilet that has remained unused
in Curepe Junction for the past six years.
The stainless steel automated public toilet
(APT), which was purchased in 2008 by gen-
eral manager of Specialist Lighting Ltd, Deb-
orah Maillard for the then People's National
Movement-led Tunapuna Piarco Regional
Corporation (TPRC), was the subject of an
investigation by the Integrity Commission
(IC) into its procurement process.
The two-unit toilet, the first and only in
T&T and the Caribbean, Maillard said, would
have provided the public with a safe and clean
Former chairman of the TPRC Khadijah
Ameen said after she assumed office in 2010,
the IC wrote the corporation requesting pro-
curement documents on the toilet.
"I sent a box filled with files to the com-
mission," Ameen disclosed on Thursday.
Since then, Ameen said, she had not
received any feedback.
From the outset, Ameen said, the APT had
been plagued with problems.
"First there was objection to the toilet's
location. Then we discovered that a contract
was issued for the maintenance of the toilet
and a $30,000 cheque for the first job had
to be stopped by the corporation because it
was way too much," Ameen said.
Ameen said it would have cost the TPRC
$42,000 a month to upkeep the public con-
venience, to which she was opposed; hence,
the reason it had never functioned.
"That's when council in 2012 passed a res-
olution to get a buyer for the toilet, but this
fell through the cracks after the 2013 local
"If the resolution has expired the new
council has the authority to come up with
another decision if they so wish."
According to PNM St Joseph/Valsayn coun-
cillor Marcia Chan Pak, who sits on the eight-
month old council in whose electoral district
the toilet is placed, the corporation's CEO
"does have possession of the keys."
On Friday, the IC's public relations officer
Mervyn Crichlow said matters investigated
by the IC are private and he could not divulge
Questioned about the investigation, Maillard
said "the IC clarified that neither I nor my
company were the subject of or was under
investigation by the IC."
She said the toilet was installed and com-
missioned and an additional advisory service
was provided gratis to the corporation for
"Delays could have arisen if the corporation
was waiting on a connection from TSTT. This
connection is important to facilitate some of
the APT's capabilities, which allow for com-
munication with emergency services in the
event that the occupant of the APT is sensed
to have stopped moving," Maillard said.
Maillard said after six years of the toilet
not operating, a complete assessment of the
unit would have to be made.
"Before we can do this, however, we have
to ensure that it can even be switched on.
The assessment exercise could take one to
three months depending on the findings."
She said her company gave a demonstration
to all 14 corporations, but the TPRC and San
Fernando showed the most interest.
Patricia Mejias under whose chairmanship
the toilet was purchased said it was not she
who gave approval for the APT, but former
permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local
Government Indra Furlong-Kelly.
A $500,000 downpayment was made
towards the public convenience.
Money from the corporation that was
scheduled to go back to the ministry's con-
solidated fund was used to purchase the unit,
"They tried to implicate me. I was not
involved in the awarding of the contract. I
don't know why they requested an investi-
gation because everything was done above
board. I know it have manual toilets in this
country that have been built for more than
Mejias said the corporation had purchased
the toilet because it created a healthy envi-
ronment and met the needs of the physically
challenged and visually impaired.
"The toilet never worked because a foreign
installation crew that was supposed to train
a team of corporation workers for a year to
operate the mechanics of the toilets never
Chairman of the TPRC, Edwin Gooding,
said the council was trying to unravel what
went wrong with the contract since the "toilet
was a big investment. It's a big issue for the
corporation...one that we are trying to
Gooding said steps had already been taken
to contact Maillard to find out if she had the
competence to service the toilet, otherwise
the council would have to contact the main
supplier in New Zealand.
"We are not going to sell the toilet. We just
want it to work."
Former chairman of the Congress of the People
(COP) Joseph Toney will throw his support behind
leadership contender Prakash Ramadhar in today s
Yesterday, Toney drew the battle line against Ramad-
har's rival Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, who on Thursday
allegedly said that under his (Toney's) chairmanship
the COP could not get a quorum for a meeting, which
he categorically denied.
He said even if Seepersad-Bachan's allegation were
true, "Why she did not address the matter? Why only
now she is seeking to gain political points from her
Toney said during the two years that Seepersad-
Bachan served as chairman, the party had not had an
annual congress "and I want to ask her if she would
blame me for that as well. Mrs Bachan must learn that
those who are aspiring for leadership must accept
responsibility for their actions, inactions and short-
comings and must not try to shift the blame on oth-
It is for this reason, Toney said, he would vote for
leader of the Congress
of the People (COP),
has agreed to contest
the chairmanship of
the party in October,
but only if Carolyn
wins today s political
The promise and
from Dookeran has
added more weight to Seepersad-Bachan's campaign
for leader of the COP. Dookeran said local politics
"needed to be repaired" and he believed Seepersad-
Bachan had the fortitude to do it.
He said his support for Seepersad-Bachan came after
members from several quarters of the COP told him
that the party was falling apart under its current lead-
"When all the members of the Congress of the People
from Sangre Grande, San Fernando, from St Augustine
and Tunapuna came to me and said the party is about
to disappear and therefore you cannot sit back and
allow it to disappear...," he said.
• Continues on Page A18
Confusion over $1m
toilet in Curepe
would help him
do the impossible
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5 pm, p ll ll $ ,000
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