SIX years after the North Eastern Regional Multi-purpose Sport Facility in Sangre Grande was officially opened, work is still being done to get it up to scratch. The facility, which was estimated to cost around $70 million, was funded from a $1.8 billion loan by the Government from the Exim Bank of China.
The multi-million-dollar indoor complex was expected to be used for basketball, netball, badminton, volleyball, hockey, table tennis, martial arts and gymnastics. But it was closed soon after opening after officials noticed problems with the quality of the flooring. Newsday understands that the material used for the floor began to lift because of the heat.
The management soon decided to close it, as it was deemed a safety hazard.
Concerns were raised with the contractor, Shanghai Construction Group (SCG), about the defects but the issue was never addressed.
“From the beginning there was a problem,” Sport Company chairman Douglas Camacho told Newsday in a 2018 interview.
On Tuesday, he said a new contractor has been identified and renovations are being done in three phases: upgrade of the outdoor field, lighting and the indoor court.
“These are the main priorities,” he said.
He was unable to give a cost for the renovation but said, “It depends on the funds available.
“Once we get funding we proceed with one phase, and the next.”
Sport Company CEO Jason Williams said the outdoor field is being done first and should be ready by the end of August. He estimated that the full scope of works should be completed by January 2023.
He said the original flooring has been dug up and a new sport flooring is being imported, but this will take some time. He said the servicing of the air-conditioning and wastewater treatment are also being handled.
Camacho said the Grande facility is not the only issue of contention with the contractor.
Government has been in arbitration with SCG for the past year seeking redress for work on other facilities such as the National Cycling Velodrome and National Aquatic Centre.
“We had to do over the entire flooring of the Cycling Velodrome. We still have issues at the Aquatic Centre to treat with,” Camacho said.
Williams confirmed that there are issues with the contractor at these facilities.
“The process to treat those issues are being followed, and that is where we are at right now,” he said.
Camacho and Williams both said the National Racquet Centre, which was used as a step-down facility by the Ministry of Health in the pandemic, was fine.
Toco/Sangre Grande MP Roger Monroe told Newsday he was glad the indoor facility was getting the required attention so his constituents could enjoy its use.
“Let me put on my record my gratefulness to my colleague (Sport Minister) Shamfa Cudjoe for her swift response to my advocation on behalf of this facility. When I came in as MP in 2020, that facility was there. “I am aware of the effects of sport and the availability of that facility and what positivity it would bring in and around the constituency.”
Monroe said he spoke to Cudjoe and wrote to her formally to have the issues addressed. He said rugby groups have contacted him about using the outdoor field.
“I am extremely excited and happy that work is being done and I look forward to the grand opening so people and sporting entities can have use of the facility, especially that community (where) it is situated.
“That community, in recent times, we’ve seen a surge in some crime, I could tell you the majority of young men and women are willing to participate in sporting activities.” He said the facility will benefit Toco/Sangre Grande and Cumuto/Manzanilla.