The Barbados Supreme Court will be back under one roof by March 2019, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Dale Marshall has assured.
This represents a two-month delay in Government’s original January timeline to return the Supreme back to its home on White Park Road.
“I’m really holding the individuals, the contractors to this. The current estimate is that all of the work will be done by the end of February. I had anticipated that we would have been moving back in January but we have now slipped by two months. So we’re expecting to move back in during the month of March and I am holding everybody’s foot to the fire to make sure that this can happen,” said Marshall, who spoke to reporters on the side lines of the opening ceremony for the 48th Caribbean Financial Action Task Force Plenary Conference at the Hilton Barbados Resort, Needhams Point, St Michael.
This morning the AG revealed that the environmental issues which forced the court to close earlier this year, were taking longer and costing more to resolve than originally planned. He explained that Government has hired a contractor to fix the roof and that the work will cost the taxpayers approximately $3 million, double the anticipated budget.
“The work on the roof that is required is far more extensive than had originally been anticipated. So we had to go back to the drawing board. That contract has been awarded as a result of competitive tender. Cabinet has approved the award of the contract and the mobilization of amounts required by the contractor should be paid within the next few days,” he said.
In explaining the delay Marshall noted, “we are trying to make sure that everything is done urgently. While the roof is being done there are some other things that can be put in place. Unfortunately because of the nature of the challenges with the Supreme Court building, mostly related to moisture as a result of leakages, we’re not going to be able to deal with the leakages until the roof is fixed.”
Back in May the sections of the court were relocated after workers, through the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) complained that they were falling ill as a result of environmental issues related to mold. The Civil Court and Court Registry were relocated to Manor Lodge. This morning Marshall revealed that the problem was caused by leaks in the roof of the ten year-old building. He also placed all of the blame at the feet of the former Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration for not maintaining the building. Lamenting that the burden to the taxpayers was more than just the cost of repairs, Marshall accused the previous administration of squander mania.
“We are carrying a $3 million repair bill for the courts and we also are carrying a rental bill of $2ten,000 per month. So really we are double-paying on an awful lot of expenses and all of this could have been avoided if the maintenance program that had been put in place for the building had been allowed to stay. The court at White Park Road is ten years old and there’s absolutely no reason why within ten years we should be having these kinds of issues. This is downright scandalous and squandering of taxpayers’ money,” the Attorney General stressed.
When the problem reared its head in April, NUPW General Secretary Roslyn Smith condemned the court as a “sick building”.
“The main area is the roof [and] that would have to be changed because mold is dropping down onto the workers. There are other conditions that are affecting the workers at different levels because, as we know, from the time that this building was erected they always had environmental issues because of where it is situated,” Smith said then.