Sunday, February 25, 2018

Elevator can’t accommodate wheelchairs

CISL project manager discovers flaw at disability centre...


QUESTIONS RAISED: CISL CEO Raees Patel, third from right, speaks to permanent secretary in the Ministry of Works Isaac James during yesterday’s sitting of the Joint Select Committee, at the International Waterfront Centre in Port of Spain. At left is Vinod Jaroo, finance manager CISL. —Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

Mark Fraser

The original scope of work for the National Development Centre for Persons with Disabilities did not include a ramp and although an elevator was installed it cannot fully accommodate wheelchair users, manager of projects for the State agency—Community Improvement Services Ltd (CISL) Satyadeo Arjoon revealed yesterday.

Arjoon was at the time responding to questions raised by chairman of the Joint Select Committee (JSC) Dr  Victor Wheeler at the JSC (Group 2) meeting at the Parliament, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, on the elevator installed. 

Wheeler who questioned how the issue with the elevator came to be, learnt from Arjoon that the contractor (SIS) was responsible for the design build project, which was awarded to SIS, so the contractor was responsible for the design.

“The contractor said he had the expertise to carry out the design works in accordance with the national and international disability codes. The issue arose when it was determined in the opinion of the Ministry of the People that the elevator provided was not sufficiently able to transport persons in wheel chairs from the first floor to the second floor, so the genesis of the problem was a design deficiency.

“The issue was although someone in a wheelchair could fit in the elevator, they would not be able to make a 180 degree turn in the elevator. There was space for the wheelchair to enter but not turn and this was only discovered after,” Arjoon said.

Wheeler then asked whether CISL was contracted to manage the project and whether there were meetings and discussions with the users of the building before the design was made. 

Arjoon told Wheeler that a steering committee was formed and after numerous consultations a user brief was formed and the steering committee signed off on the user brief which formed part of the request of proposal document that went to contractors during the tendering process.

JSC member Alicia Hospedales questioned whether anyone for the National Centre for Persons with Disabilities was present on the steering committee, to which Arjoon said he was unsure.

Questioned by Wheeler on whether there was a time frame for the issue to be resolved, Arjoon said, “Right now we are engaging in talks with the contractor as well as the Ministry of the People representatives to have this issue resolved. We have been engaging them for a couple weeks now. We have not settled on a final resolution to the issue so I don’t want to commit to a time frame.”

Wheeler then went on to ask about an issue with the ramp for the building and was told by Arjoon that a ramp was not part of the original scope of works, although the majority of users were persons with disabilities.

“After the contract was awarded the Ministry of the People requested that a separate ramp be placed on the building...some additional works on the ramp were requested by the Ministry of the People,” Arjoon said.

Wheeler then said he hoped lessons had been learnt from this project so taxpayers dollars would not be wasted in future projects.