Saturday, April 3, 2010

Corruption Evidence, St James Youth Facility Part 2

As stated in Part One. Liam Carlos Rezende is just an ordinary citizen seraching for the truth. Please read his part two here:

I have begun a full scale investigation into the construction of the St. James Youth Facility. I am by no means an investigative journalist nor do I pretend to have the qualifications. I am simply a concerned citizen of Trinidad and Tobago that is begging for transparency, consultation, accountability, monitoring and evaluation. By doing this series I'm hoping someone with the right tools, resources and avenues can pick up my story.

As my "investigations" continue I've realised there is so much more in the mortar than in the pestle. I feel as though I'm pulling a root out of the ground and I can't seem to get to the end, yet the root gets darker and dirtier the more I pull.

So I've been reliably informed that the suspicions of Chinese tenants at the St. James Youth Facility are all true. I have been told that the Chinese living in the Facility are all workers on the project and that it's a norm for them to live on the site they work at. (I for one never knew that was a norm).

So as I mentioned in Part 1, while passing the facility last night I was invited by the two community persons that were in a meeting discussing the Youth facility. My friend and I happily joined the meeting as they both began explaining to us the many trials and tribulations they have gone through in the past to develop and enhance their community as well as moves to get answers on the Youth facility that remains closed.

Allow me to digress for one second to explain to you the space where this meeting was being conducted. I sat in an utter state of depression. The "panyard" which has been functioning as the community center since they lost the last one four years ago to clear space for the new and improved Youth facility was nothing short of melancholic. It was dismal yet full of potential. The bathrooms weren’t tiled and looked horrendous, the kitchen cupboards were falling apart exposing the cut sweet drink bottles being used as bowls and cups, the wrought iron gates to the office and pan storage room were rusting and a few dusty, old and out-dated musical instruments were scattered throughout the room. Yet to the back of the room was a colourful mural done by a girl as a gift to the community space who we learned was from the community and had gone on to do her doctorate.

I was amazed to see the home of the St. James Tripolians who have won a plethora of awards at several local festivals and represented Trinidad and Tobago not only regionally and internationally but was also the first steel drum band to have ever performed at The Great American Brass Band Festival.
The only support they have ever gotten from the Government was a new roof that was installed when the Government needed the space as a polling station for General Elections. To me it showed a complete disregard to not only our National instrument but a complete neglect of our history and culture.
Anyway, apologies for the side note.

So we sat there asking questions about the Youth facility. From what we understand there was one “consultation” and it was the furthest thing from listening to the people as the community person described the meeting as the Ministry shoving plans down their throats and saying this is what has been designed and this is what will be built. He lamented that they were never given an opportunity to have input into what they would like to see in the Facility.

Having been in the building, they have now decided to rally support from the members of the community by printing letters inviting them to discuss what can be done with the completed rooms. Unfortunately, the community has not been as successful as the Artists Coalition to compile the flaws of the Youth Facility as well as the way forward in an analytical palatable document to produce to the Ministry. Another thing affecting the committee is the lack of information from any Government body as it pertains to the management of the facility.

As you would have read in Part 1 , I, myself found it difficult to get any information from the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs as well as the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago as to who is responsible for the building. After making a few more calls today I have been informed by an employee at the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs who refused to give me her name because she found I was asking too many questions, stated that they were not in charge of the Facility and she heard that they had just paid some bill and there was no furniture so it may open next year, she then got very angry and stated that the Facility is still under the National Insurance Property Development Company (NIPDEC ), a privately owned state company, and has not yet been handed over to the Ministry, I simply thanked her and asked her to transfer me to someone who could assist me further. She angrily transferred me to the Youth Affairs division and I told the person that answered the phone that I forgot the name of the person that just transferred the call to her and the person answering being ignorant to the conversation I just had gave me her name, position and department. :)

So I thought great another lead. My obvious step was to contact NIPDEC. After making over seven calls and leaving three messages I finally had the privilege of speaking with the Project Coordinator in charge of the St. James Youth Facility.

My conversation with the Project Coordinator led me to another tip where I became flabbergasted and appalled as to how truly horrific and convoluted this scandal goes.

See Part Three Here

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