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Sunday 16 June 2019
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Duke: Give us proof

No structural damage to gov’t buildings, Sinanan

Watson Duke
Watson Duke


WORKS and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan yesterday said there has been no structural damage to any government buildings, bridges or road networks as a result of Tuesday’s earthquake.

Contacted in Tobago, Sinanan said these were the findings so far, from assessments being done by the ministry’s engineers.
He said the assessments should be completed by Sunday.

Sinanan told Newsday the Princes Town Magistrates’ Court has been closed, but this was not because of damage caused by the earthquake but because the building housing the court is an old structure.

Sinanan made these comments hours after Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke wrote to all government ministries and agencies, seeking reassurance that the buildings they occupy are structurally safe after the earthquake.

Duke said he warned that “public officers would be leaving any building without documentation.”

He said the earthquake caused structural damage to many workplaces, including several government ministries and state agencies.

Saying the union has received concerns about this from workers, Duke said the Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Act states that employees can refuse to work in conditions which are hazardous to their health or life.

He said the PSA is demanding that government ministries and agencies invite the OSH inspector “to carry out a thorough inspection of all government and state buildings to verify they comply with the OSH Act 2004.”

Duke said the union is demanding a certified civil structural engineer registered with the Board of Engineering, with at least ten years’ service “be brought in to undertake an assessment of your buildings and provide the association” with a copy of the engineer’s report.

He said the PSA will await a response to its letters, before determining its next course of action and dismissed statements by Young about him spreading fake news after the earthquake.
Duke said he does not confuse his union duties with his responsibilities as Tobago House of Assembly Minority Leader.

“We are all politicians. The difference is my politics has not made me blind.” In a statement, the Finance Ministry announced the re-opening of some its offices yesterday.
The ministry’s office at the Eric Williams Financial Complex, the Inland Revenue Division office at Government Campus Plaza and the Valuations Division in Barataria were among those offices.


THE Public Services Association (PSA) today wrote to several government ministries and agencies, requesting information to verify the safety of the buildings they occupy, following Tuesday's 6.9 magnitude earthquake.

PSA president Watson Duke told Newsday the union dispatched letters to all of these entities.

He explained the letters are asking for certificates indicating their buildings are structurally sound and safe for workers to occupy.

Duke said the PSA will give these entities ample opportunity in which to reply and then determine their next course of action.

He dismissed National Security Minister Stuart Young's statement that he was someone who was spreading fake news after the earthquake.

Duke maintained he was acting in the interest of workers in his capacity as PSA president.

He said he is not confusing that role with his political role as Tobago House of Assembly Minority Leader.

"We are all politicians. The difference is my politics has not made me blind," Duke said.

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