Sunday, February 18, 2018

Mayor working in ‘opulence’ while offices ‘fit for vagrants’

Duke takes media on tour of City Hall

 IT WAS a tale of two City Halls yesterday.

The Express newspaper was part of a media contingent that toured the facilities at the Port of Spain City Hall.

On one side was the “unsatis­fac­tory” conditions faced by Port of Spain City Police and the public health inspectors.

On the other was what Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke called the “tower of opulence” where Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee’s office is housed.

The tour began on the ground floor where the Port of Spain City Police are housed.

Inside that area, the media entourage was shown the single cell used to house male detainees. 

Because the cell does not have any toilet facilities, it means detainees have to urinate and defecate on the floor, Superintendent Glen Charles said.

There is no cell for female detainees. A lack of space has caused what was meant to be the female cell to be transformed to a storage room.

The dormitories were stuffy. 

A litany of other health and safety violations caused the Port of Spain City Police to stop work yesterday.

Duke yesterday put the nation on notice that the Port of Spain City Police and the public health inspectors, who are both housed at City Hall, will not be continuing to work in their “unsafe environment”.

He made the call during a news conference held at City Hall.

“Until further notice, the Port of Spain City Police will not be continuing to work in that unsafe environment where the building is structu­rally unsound; until further notice the public health inspectors, who have such important functions, also will not be working in that unsafe building until those issues are rectified,” Duke said.

“We say to the public and those persons who may be affected that this could end tomorrow or this evening; all we are asking for is a validation that the buil­ding is safe, the validation that the building is structurally legal, the validation that the building’s structu­ral integrity is not compromised by the mayors’ penthouse, delusions of grandeur again where he has put himself on the top of the world to see the whole of Port of Spain while the rest of the building suffers for want of clean air, for want of proper exits and building accommodations,” he said.

Following the tour, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Social and Welfare Association (TTPSSWA) Insp Anand Ramesar said the City Police facilities were “a habitat fit for vagrants”.

Ramesar called on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to intervene in the situation.

TTPSSWA secretary Ag Insp Michael Seales described the building as a “hostile” one.

“I know he (Duke) is saying we are speaking about sick buildings but this is not a sick building, it is a hostile building, and it is in fact a situation where it is surprising to see the mayor (Tim Kee) passes through is surprising to see he sits on television and boasts of the clean atmosphere he wants for Port of Spain, but the building that houses his very officers, he is not attending to,” Seales said.

The media contingent also toured the offices of the public health inspectors, which mirrored the difficulties faced by the city police.

To get between the two areas, the media were escorted through the “pent-house” offices constructed by Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee.

Duke said Tim Kee “built his own tower of opulence while the people are made to suffer”.

The newly constructed area was air-conditioned, with new tiles and aesthetically pleasing.

Duke said while the city police and the public health inspectors were cramped for space, Tim Kee had a “dancehall upstairs”.

Duke said Tim Kee was suffering from “delusions of grandeur”.