Red House plans for Cabinet
By Clint Chan Tack Monday, April 14 2014
PLANS to use the rotunda of the Red House as part of the State funeral arrangements for former President and Prime Minister Arthur NR Robinson will be going to Cabinet this week for approval. This was disclosed yesterday by Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) chairman Jearlean John. Udecott is the project manager for the restoration of the Red House, the seat of this country’s Parliament
Last Friday in the House of Representatives, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced that the State funeral for Robinson will take place from April 29 to May 3. Robinson died last Wednesday at the age of 87.
She said Robinson’s body will lie in state at the rotunda of the Red House on April 29 and 30 between 6 am and 6 pm on both days, allowing persons to pay their respects to him by filing past the flag-draped unopened casket. John told Newsday that Udecott will “work with the schedule given” for the State funeral. She said planning for the use of the rotunda as described by Persad-Bissessar has already begun.
Declaring that Udecott will “rise to the occasion,” John said the plans for the use of the rotunda, the related budget and other details will go to Cabinet on Thursday for approval. She said efforts are being made to ensure that the work is done within budget and in a manner befitting the solemness of the occasion. John added that Robinson in many ways is “part of the structure” of the Red House. Robinson was well-known for his utterance of “attack with full force” while he was a hostage in the Red House during the July 27, 1990 attempted coup.
John said while Robinson’s body is lying in state at the Red House on April 29 and 30, all restoration work on the building will be suspended as a mark of respect to the special guests, dignitaries and ordinary citizens who will be coming there to pay their final respects to Robinson.
She indicated that work will resume on May 1 and would not cause any delays in completing the restoration of the Red House.
Stating that designs for the building have been received and contractors have already been pre-qualified, John indicated that full blown restoration works should begin between May and July.
While she could not give a date for the completion of these works, John was confident the Parliament could be relocated from the Port-of-Spain International Waterfront Centre back to the Red House sometime next year.
Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, Udecott’s line minister, confirmed that work on the rotunda should begin this week. Today, an inter-ministerial planning committee will meet at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair at 9 am to continue discussions about the State funeral arrangements. National Security Minister Gary Griffith, who is chairing that committee, indicated last week a list of persons who will be coming to TT for Robinson’s funeral is being compiled.
Four Yoruba Chiefs are expected in TT for the funeral and will perform a funeral ceremony for Robinson who was made a Chief of Ile Ife by the Ooni of Ife in a when he visited Nigeria in 1991. Sources said former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and International Criminal Court (ICC) President Sang-Hyun Song could be amongst the dignitaries coming to TT for the State funeral.
From today and leading up to the ecumenical service at NAPA, condolence books will be available at specific locations for persons to sign on Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays) at specific locations between the hours of 8 am to 4 pm.
Those places are the Parliament Building, Port-of-Spain; Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Legislative Chamber, Scarborough; all foreign diplomatic missions in TT and the Port-of-Spain City, San Fernando City, Arima Borough, Point Fortin Borough and Chaguanas Borough Corporations.