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Serious structural flaws keep Napa closed

...repairs could cost millions
Published: 
Sunday, May 10, 2015
A pedestrian walks past the National Academy for the Performing Art in Port-of- Spain, which is closed for repairs. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR

One year after it was shut down, the $500 million National Academy for Performing Arts (Napa) still remains closed.

And, according to an engineering expert, repairs could cost the Government millions to repair.

Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas has expressed disappointment and frustration over the closure of the facility.

Cabinet was expected to make a decision on how to treat with the litany of structural faults and failures at the Port-of-Spain facility.

Last April, Napa was shut down after it was deemed unsafe by the Occu­pational Safety and Health Administration (Osha.)

Sunday Guardian understands that a structural engineering report has been submitted to the Cabinet for review and cites some serious flaws, among them welding bolt failures, requiring urgent attention. 

Douglas confirmed that an engineering evaluation has been done on Napa and it has been submitted to the Cabinet. 

The minister refused to divulge the findings of the report.

“I wanted the Cabinet to get a complete eye of the report and then I would make a complete statement. I do not want to preempt the decision of the Cabinet...” he said.

He could not say how much the repairs could cost.

Napa cordoned off

Napa, which was constructed by Chinese firm Shanghai Construction, under the People’s National Movement-led regime and formerly opened in 2010, remains a safety issue. At present, the facility is cordoned off by galvanised sheets and caution tape.

Douglas said he was “very disappointed” that the facility cannot be used.

“It is quite sad and frustrating to have a facility like this sitting around that we are unable to use to the max because of those significant flaws that are related to design and all kinds of structural problems,” the minister lamented.

He said a lot of the issues at the facility were related to “improper project oversight in the last administration of government as it relates to the building of these facilities (Napa and the Southern Academy for Performing Arts.)”

Douglas said what makes the situation more difficult was the fact that it was constructed not only as an auditorium, but an academy for the teaching modules related to the arts and the culture industry. 

Douglas said the ministry was working with Shanghai to upgrade the building.

However, he said, “There are still more very significant and detailed issues that has to be addressed and I would leave that up to the cabinet decide that.”

Building code coming—Moonilal

The structural faults found in Napa highlights the need for a building code and a presiding authority to ensure its enforcement.

Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, who has responsibility for Udecott, the state agency that presided over the project, said he has not made any suggestions to Cabinet regarding Napa, since that facility falls under Arts and Multiculturalism.

However, Moonilal said T&T would be getting building code to deal with small structures within a couple of days. He said the national building code committee, which is led by chairman Shyankaran Lalla, has been working “very hard over the last couple of years” on the building code.

“We are on the verge now of signing off with the national agencies concerning a uniform code. We expect that will be done within a few days. We have funding for the code committee, and we also have funding for the international agencies assisting with that, so funding is in place,” the minister assured.

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