Friday, February 23, 2018

NAPA still world class

Chinese builder defends performing arts academy


Managing Director of Shanghai Contruction Group International (Caribbean) Ltd Michael Zhang, points to a photograph showing the buildings in Shanghi, China that were construction by parent company Shanghai Construction Group. Zhang was one of several company officials who spoke at a press conference at which visiting Trinidad and Tobago media fielded questions on Monday. Photo: Richard Charan

Richard Charan


Mark Fraser

THE NATIONAL Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain remains a world-class facility, with minor problems which can be fixed in short time. 

But the multimillion-dollar faci­lity needs a long-term maintenance contract to keep it at a high standard.

This is according to officials of SCG International (Caribbean), which constructed the facility commissioned by the People’s National Movement (PNM) administration and opened in 2009.

The company said it would continue to respond to calls from NAPA to repair any problems until contractual arrangements are made for the maintenance of the building, which cost almost $500 million and was des­cribed by then-prime minister Patrick Manning as a masterpiece.

Last month, Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) inspectors ordered the closure of a part

of the facility, citing badly secured lighting fixtures, shattered glass panes, and issues with air quality. 

And Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas has claimed the facility had deteriorated and multiple problems identified, which would cost the State millions of dollars to repair.

SCG International (Carib­bean) Ltd’s managing direc­tor, Michael Zhang, was asked about the reports during a news conference on Monday, hosted by parent company Shang­­hai Construction Group, in Shanghai, China.

The news conference was atten­ded by members of a Trinidad and Tobago media delegation on a one-week visit to China.

Shanghai Construction Group’s president, Hang Yingwei, director general of international business, Li Lan, and Zhang fielded questions.

Zhang said it was a misunderstanding sub-standard materials had been used.

He said the company had built the best facility it could for citizens, with a stipulation it be maintained by SCG International (Caribbean) for one year, at no expense to the State.

He said the company had often been called upon to fix small problems at the facility, and “we are still willing to support the building management to fix the issues”.

He said the question of why prob­­­lems were now developing should be asked of those currently managing the building, and of the 13 projects undertaken by the company in Trinidad, the issue of sub-standard work has never arisen.


Last month, IslandPeople

Mas had to move its band launch from NAPA to Queen’s Hall, due to the clo­sure of the venue because of OSH (occupational safety and health) violations.

Public Services Association (PSA) pre­sident Watson Duke had subsequently produced a copy of the report entitled “NAPA Health and Safety Issues”, which he received on August 4 after the OSH inspection. 

An excerpt from the foreword said: “The entire building known as the NAPA situated at the corner of Keate and Frederick Streets, Port of Spain, contains violations of the occupational safety and health (OSHA) fire, health and occupa­tional diseases codes, building violation codes, equipment safety codes, human safety codes. Some existing conditions have the potential to cause critical injury while others are already affecting the daily health and welfare of employees, support staff (security, catering and cleaning) and the many other users of the space (clients and wider public). 

This building has been a tragic victim of cultural differences and ignorance and/or disregard of proper international standards of a performance facility.” 

—Richard Charan was a member of the Trinidad and Tobago media contingent who spent a week in China, at the invitation of the Chinese Embassy in Port of Spain.