$446M for ‘new’ Parliament
By SEAN DOUGLAS Wednesday, June 27 2012
ALMOST half a billion dollars is needed to upgrade the Red House and its surroundings to accommodate Parliament, revealed Independent Senator Dr James Armstrong. The cost includes $241 million for restoration of the Red House and $205 million to build a Companion Building to house parliamentary support services.
The revelations came as Armstrong moved a motion on Monday for the Senate to approve the Second Report of the Joint Select Committee (JSC) on Parliamentary Accommodation.
Armstrong, a retired Town Planner, lamented that the committee he chaired had found the Red House in a dilapidated state for quite some time, with a faulty roof and no floor at the southern wing. He said Parliament was able to occupy only half the building.
The committee has decided that Parliament could not function during the renovations, so had vacated the premises to go to Tower D of the Waterfront Centre, Port-of-Spain. Parliament occupies from the ground floor to level seven but may also need to acquire floor eight he said.
On a brighter note, Armstrong said that once the renovations are done, the Red House should give another 80 to 100 years of service.
However, Armstrong said the “user brief” to the restoration had found that even after its upgrade, the Red House would be “seriously inadequate” to house all of the functions of Parliament, for which extra space was needed in a Companion Building.
The proposed locale for this new building is the Ministry of National Security building just to the north of the Red House, which Ministry by implication would have to be relocated. Armstrong also spoke of establishing a parliamentary precinct including pedestrianisation of areas around the Red House.
Speaking from the floor, Senate vice-president Lyndira Oudit urged all to support the project and to save the work of the committee ahead of the prorogation of Parliament which occurred yesterday. Opposition Senator Faris Al-rawi lamented the half-billion initial estimate of the Red House upgrade and Companion Building, alluding that project delays could cause cost escalations. Senators unanimously passed the motion.