Monday, February 19, 2018

Uncertainty over Lara stadium; claims of pilferage

As Government contemplates whether the mothballed Brian Lara Cricket Academy will be completed, thieves have reportedly moved into the facility and dismantled the electrical system and infrastructural works.

The Express was informed that several seats were also removed from the compound and windows were broken.

The rusting facility along the Solomon Hochoy Highway has caused concern among citizens and questions were raised on whether the complex would ever be completed.

Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) communications manager Roxanne Stapleton-Whyms, however, denied that items were being removed from the facility.

She said consultants have conducted a complete conditions survey which included architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical and civil surveys.

“A report on the findings of these surveys and the construction cost to complete the facility, with supporting documentation were submitted to UDeCOTT. The UDeCOTT board reviewed the report and made recommendations on the way forward,” she said.

Stapleton-Whyms said a timeline to completion has not yet been identified. “The cost to completion will be dependent on the scope of works and any remedial works deemed necessary,” she said.

Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal has stated that the Government had projected to complete the cricket academy and have some games taking place at the facility by 2015.

But for that to happen, Moonilal said, another $190 million would be required for the completion of the multi-purpose stadium.

In the meantime, the parking lot of the facility has been the venue of several fetes during the Carnival season. Responding to questions raised by a San Fernando City Corporation councillor, Stapleton-Whyms had stated that no rental fees were being collected by UDeCOTT.

UDeCOTT had been allowing events to be take place only in the car park area, with the rest of the facility being off-limits.

The stadium, which forms part of a multi-sporting complex consisting of aquatic facilities and an indoor basketball court, was initially estimated to cost some $850 million.

It is named after retired cricketing great Brian Charles Lara, a former captain of the West Indies cricket team.

The Express was told that a proposal was submitted and Cabinet had agreed to continue the work.

Moonilal acknowledged that there were still some remedial work there to do, as well as some re-engineering of the facility.

The project became the subject of a Commission of Enquiry and claims of corruption were cited in a lawsuit filed against former executive chairman of UDeCOTT, Calder Hart.