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Tuesday 13 November 2018
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$29m disability

Minister Cherrie-Ann Critchlow-Cockburn.
Minister Cherrie-Ann Critchlow-Cockburn.

A $29 million facility at Carlsen Field, Chaguanas to boost the development of people with disabilities, will be completed by year-end, Social Development Minister Cherrie-Ann Critchlow-Cockburn told reporters yesterday at her office on St Vincent Street, Port of Spain. The National Enrichment Centre (NEC) will offer vocational training and employment, life skills, rehabilitation, therapy and socialisation. Saying some remedial work is to be done on the facility, she said the procurement process has begun, with work to be finished by mid-August.

The ministry remains resolute to equip the facility, Critchlow-Cockburn said.

Some $4 million given under the 2018 Public Sector Investment Programme will be paid to complete the remedial work ($1 million), and to buy the first batch of therapy equipment ($3 million) out of a total $9 million in such equipment intended.

Critchlow-Cockburn said in 2011, the former cabinet agreed to a $29 million budget for the project. In 2012 a $16 million MOU was signed between the ministry and Community Improvement Services Limited (CISL) for the design, construction and project management fees. CISL in turn engaged contractor Super Industrial Services to build the facility. She said the University of the West Indies’ Engineering Institute was paid $59,000 to structurally assess the building, and last September submitted their report that the Ministry of Works then approved in February. Critchlow-Cockburn said the final completion certificate from the Couva Tabaquite Talparo Regional Corporation is dependent on the completion of the remedial work.

This includes minor repairs to the pool, plumbing, pumps and roof; touch up painting; replacement of roof tiles; and installation of air-conditioning.

Equipment will have to be bought by an organisation chosen to run the centre.

However the minister said her ministry's tender to run the centre had attracted only two bids and neither were suitable.

"A revised TOR (terms of reference) would have to be prepared and the entire process re-done." Critchlow-Cockburn said her ministry is establishing a National Employment Service for the disabled including visually-impaired. TT's ratification in 2015 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities obliges TT to do several acts including setting up a working group to implement the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities.

In addition to establishing the NEC, the minister vowed to work with the Ministry of Health to provide rehabilitation and therapy services at clinics and hospitals nationwide.

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