Food Production Secretary Hayden Spencer has refuted claims that the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) had ever put forward a $10 million cost for a new Scarborough market, and that the $28 million now being spent was for a “total rebuilding of the market.”
Last Tuesday, Christlyn Moore, Political Leader of the Tobago Forwards, claimed there was documentary evidence showing the THA had planned to build a new Scarborough market costing $10 million as she questioned the $28 million contract to redo the existing derelict building.
Speaking with Newsday Tobago on Friday, Spencer said he had no knowledge of a $10 million budget for a new market.
“What I saw when I came to the Division, there was a cost to a new market which was $58 million… I don’t know anything about $10 million to build a new market. I have never seen any document in the Division with any plans to build a new market at $10 million, what I saw there was plans to build a new market at $58 million.
“The temporary market at Shaw Park, there were some plans to build it for $10 million but I was the one, as Secretary, who decided that $10 million was too much for a temporary market so we did the cost cutting and went ahead to build something that can be utilised after as a farmer’s market,” he said.
Spencer also explained the changes of costs to upgrade the old market – from an initial $18 million to $21 million and to a final $28 million announced at the signing of a contract with Trinidad-based Alpha-Engineering and Construction Limited.
“Those were different evaluations brought to the Executive Council… one was to do a facelift of the building for $18 million, the $21 million was another facelift with few touching up, but what we are doing now is a total rebuilding of the market which would cost us $28 million because the structure of the old market is compromised,” he said. He did not provide details of the scope of works.
Also asked about reports that the scale as well as the freezers were not working at the Packing House at Shaw Park, Spencer said:
“The packing house is functional. I was told that they are trying to get the people to come up from Trinidad to service the two chillers that went down… that is all. It had three chillers there and two are down at this time. They are not able to give me a date as to when all three will be back up at this time, because they are saying that the purchase orders are prepared but they are unable to get flights at this time.”