Less than one week after the reopening of the $441 million restored Red House—a heavy downpour in the capital city yesterday resulted in leaks in the building’s roof and flooding on the compound.
Noel Garcia, chairman of the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott) the project manager of the multi-million dollar project has promised to look into and rectify the problem forthwith.
During the sitting of the Senate, a heavy shower of rain occurred which led to multiple leaks in the basement area.
The reception of the reopening of the Red House was held last Friday in the basement where Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George delivered remarks to guests about the historic building.
Thick brown paper had to be layered on the floor by Parliament staff to absorb the accumulation of water and to prevent anyone from falling.
A photo of the saturated paper was posted on social media by Opposition MPs and Senators, sparking outrage by members of the public who questioned if taxpayers got their money’s worth.
Flooding was also visible on the compound of the St Vincent Street side which has a ramp that can be used by physically challenged individuals. Rainwater had settled in a pool leading to two staircases and in the courtyard, making it impassible. Staff leaving the Red House were advised to use the Abercromby Street exit instead.
In a statement in the House of Representatives on Monday, Rowley released all the expenditure figures on the Red House restoration project.
He said the project was originally budgeted at $1 billion under the People’s Partnership administration but under his regime, the Red House was delivered at a cost savings of $600 million less.
Rowley said Udecott surveyed the roof, restored and rebuilt it with timber and slate.
The cost of the roofing and associated carpentry works was priced at $20 million.
The PM said in order to make sure the public is not distressed by misinformation and hidden agendas, he has instructed the Ministry of Finance to have its Central Audit Department conduct an examination of the project and prepare a report.
In a telephone interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Garcia admitted that the rain was unusual in Port-of-Spain and he too could not get into South Quay as it was flooded.
“But we are looking into. There were one or two leaks that sprung up.”
Garcia said any problem that cropped up would be dealt with by the contractors.
As for the leaks in the roof, Garcia could not tell if the seal in the roof’s skylight shifted or did not hold.
“But we are going up there tomorrow to take a look at why the seal did not hold and to repair it.”
When told that the Opposition had already posted the leak on social media, Garcia replied: “So what! It is a building. It was refurbished. There is a leak. It is covered under the defects liability period of whatever problems that show up and it will be dealt with. I am not going to get excited.”