McCaffrey disgrace

Newsday Editorial
Wednesday, March 25 2009

Calder HartThere is clearly a link between the findings contained in the February 20 report presented by Gerry McCaffrey, construction expert hired by the Uff Commission of Inquiry that the structural steel work at the Brian Lara Stadium project “is effectively condemned” and the cancelling of his return flight to Trinidad on February 27 by the Office of the Prime Minister.

In addition, the report had effectively cleared former Minister of Housing, Dr Keith Rowley, of any wrongdoing with respect to the Cleaver Heights Housing Project. Instead of McCaffrey’s report triggering a desire by the authorities to facilitate the further pursuit of the investigation, McCaffrey’s probe into a series of projects has been abruptly halted as the cancellation of his return flight meant that he was unable to continue his inquiries.

Even as we express concern for the as yet unexplained tacit halt to the investigations by McCaffrey we, nonetheless, frown on the reported moves by the Joint Consultative Council (JCC) to initiate a fund-raising drive to help pay for the expert’s return airfare to allow him to resume his search to establish the truth. Since the JCC has an interest in the proceedings, then any move to collect funds from the public to defray the cost of the airfare, however well intentioned, may be viewed by disinterested persons as, unwittingly, compromising McCaffrey’s position. While any seeking of money by the JCC outside of Government funding is conditional on any failure of the Chairman of the Inquiry, Professor John Uff to meet with President George Maxwell Richards on the matter, it would, nevertheless, be inappropriate and the JCC should withdraw its proposal.

The action by the Office of the Prime Minister in cancelling McCaffrey’s return flight to Trinidad and Tobago is disgraceful. Apparently, what the construction expert stated in his initial report did not gel with what the Office of the Prime Minister may have had in mind. Gilbert Peterson SC, one of the attorneys acting on behalf of Dr Keith Rowley bluntly stated: “There is some hand working behind the Commission undermining its independence. Some of the resources provided to the Inquiry Secretariat were less than adequate. If funding is insufficient or inadequate or has been wrongly withdrawn, then I think the Commission ought to say so openly.”

The cancellation of McCaffrey’s return flight to Trinidad and Tobago does not sit well and places the Government generally and the Office of the Prime Minister specifically in an uncomfortable light. It is somehow difficult to believe that there was someone in the Prime Minister’s Office who would have acted on his or her initiative and bypass the Prime Minister himself.

Already, two senior Cabinet ministers, Attorney General Bridgid Annisette and Energy Minister, Senator Conrad Enill have in essence distanced themselves from the cancellation of McCaffrey’s return flight. Not only did they plead a lack of knowledge as to why the flight was cancelled, but intimated that inquiries should be directed to the Office of the Prime Minister.

The situation has become even more puzzling with the statement by Attorney Peterson that “Udecott on March 3, instructed its staff not to cooperate with Mr McCaffrey. Subsequently, we are hearing that funding for McCaffrey has been terminated. Who in the Government is taking instructions from Udecott?”, Peterson asked.

In the meantime, Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry, Professor John Uff, choosing his words carefully and diplomatically, offered that the “Commissioners will be further assisted if Mr McCaffrey is authorised to finalise his report”. Indeed, his use of the words “is authorised to finalise his report” was a carefully packaged statement. In turn, his not making any reference to McCaffrey’s revelation that the Office of the Prime Minister cancelled his return flight in February, added just the right touch.,97295.html

Related News:

Drop McCaffrey report
LAWYERS for Udecott and its executive chairman Calder Hart yesterday asked the commissioners to exclude the Gerry McCaffrey report from evidence in the inquiry, arguing the report can only be considered if McCaffrey takes the stand.

JCC wants probe into Performing Arts Centre

‘Spider web’ Academy
THE National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port-of-Spain was yesterday described as “a spider web” apparently able to only accommodate dancers who use “small Chinese steps”, by Commissioner Israel Khan SC, as questions were raised over Udecott’s management of the project, in the Uff Commission of Inquiry.

Why Canadian on Waterfront project?
COMMISSIONERS in the Uff Commission of Inquiry into Udecott yesterday asked why a provision in the contract for the $2.8 billion Waterfront Project stipulated that a member of the project’s design and build team include the president of a group known as the “Association of Engineers of Canada”.

CEO ‘can’t recall’ hotel in arts centre plan

No cost overrun in my time
Former chief executive officer of Udecott John Agard said yesterday that up to the time he was CEO, there were no cost overruns on the Waterfront Project.

6 thoughts on “McCaffrey disgrace”

  1. UDeCOTT’s blunder

    Udecott lawyer withdraws application

    Tarouba stadium tulip design bizarre
    THE DESIGN for the Brian Lara Stadium project in Tarouba was yesterday described as “bizarre” by expert witness engineer Arun Buch, as further questions over Udecott’s management of the $885 million project emerged.

    Contractor got Tarouba project without competing

    …Uff to issue gag order

    Ramesh boots Hamza out Whip seat
    TABAQUITE MP Ramesh Maharaj yesterday found himself in the Opposition Chief Whip’s seat in the House of Representatives but only after Caroni Central MP Dr Hamza Rafeeq agreed to move from the seat.

    McCaffrey drops fees to $1.2M

    McCaffrey lowers fees …says Udecott not co-operating

  2. Goddard bills Govt $1M a week
    Andrew Goddard QC, the lead attorney hired by State enterprise Udecott to represent that company in the Commission of Inquiry into the construction sector, is said by London lawyers to bill the Government of Trinidad and Tobago an estimated $1 million for a week’s worth of work.

    ‘Expert worked without any Govt arrangement’

    Govt appointed lawyer approved $2.5M fees
    Sunday Newsday has learnt that the issue of McCaffrey’s fees was examined by a London-based lawyer who was hired by the Government.

    I am satisfied with Cleaver Heights
    ALMOST a full month before he submitted his initial report to the Uff Commission of Inquiry, Scottish construction expert Gerry McCaffrey told the Office of the Prime Minister he was satisfied that the Cleaver Heights housing project would not require “significant investigation.”

  3. As a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago,I am concerned about the fastracking of any construction projects since quality control is often overlooked and in most cases bypassed.The commission of inquiry certainly raises these issues through the findings of Mr Mcaffrey and i would like to hear comments from BOETT , APETT ,The Civil Engineering Department of Trinidad and Tobago and even our Trade Unions .Even if some of the findings submitted by construction expert Mr.MCaffrey were allegedly based on hearsay ,I think that the Minister of works was wrong to critisised rather than call for a forensic investigation to determine wether the requirements of technical specifications were adequately satisfied .I would also like to see the establishment of an independent investigative board of construction experts established for the purpose of ensuring that Quality Requirements and Adherence to Technical Specifications are adequately satisfied on all Public construction Trinidad and Tobago .

  4. Shyankaran lalla , I must commend you guys for your commitment, and focus on the daily , sometimes hidden intricate matters of affairs that confronts our nation ever so often as it tries to catch up in terms of years of independence with your more sophisticated and developed Country USA. You know down to the last detail the name of every Commission of Enquiry , board of director chairman , who did what , when, why and how for every feasibility study. Who had responsibility for quality control , and Sec 101 25 par 2345 of the next Hansard report , and regulation that Sir Ellis , President Robi , or the late Noor Hasanalli signed . Good job , indeed!
    These foreign based super meddling folks from the Dominican Republic, Cuba ,Haiti ,and Guyana have nothing on you. You must be doing quite good in Boston , or Montreal, as you try to hold down three jobs to scrape enough up to pay for the oil heat and the rent for the overpriced apartment . These kind of thorough research are the result of too much time on your hands or the slick work of inside destabilization jobs.
    Our once respected Ministries must be loosing a step or two some would agree with me. Back in days when the nutcase Doc was at the helm ,“money was no problem,” and yours truly was one of the thousand of grateful Civil Servant leeches , evading Lavantille floods ,as I tried to trek my way to work on a daily basis , we had standards , codes of conduct, and respect for confidentiality. Again , forgive me – yours truly the super patriot aka voice of reason.
    Perhaps it’s me that’s out of touch . I can accurately write a book daily on any social or political issue of relevance that took place ,or might be ongoing in my country from independence to present if pushed. Do not however ask me to name two Cabinet members outside of the Prime Minister and is confidant and wife Ms. Manning- since he fired or politically destroyed anyone with any modicum of a spine . As for the Opposition, all I can recall is Mr. Panday, his legally inexperience daughter -com novice MP , his brother Suraj , and two encroaching political rivals -Legal Representative / Chief whip Maharaj, and finance Guru aka former FIFA Secretary/ savvy businessman Mr. Warner.
    As I said , thank you for being on the ball. Can anyone care to tell me again who is Gerry McCaffrey , why the obsessions with Ms Nunez-Tesheira, or the names of three players on the WI team since the great party animal Brian Lara departed ? Ah ha , here is a good one , that Caroni bridge and crane that collapse a few months ago where a citizen died , who designed it and when , as well as how much was paid to the contractor refurbish/ move it , and who was such lucky fellow? I am beginning to enjoy this .
    What did it cost us in terms of legal fees to squash the Caroni Racing Complex on the behest of then vibrant thoroughbred , firebrand political luminary and Trade Union pit-bull Mr. Panday. “Horses before houses” , hmmm? Yeah right! Let me leave that airport fiasco alone, as it’s a legal pending matter .
    Are those desperate fellow citizens from the island ward of Tobago still risking their lives with the chance of getting their gall bladder or appendix destroyed, as they attempt to travel to the great POS General Hospital for a basic operation while waiting to see another hospital completed in Tobago to compliment the Scarborough garbage heap the British left almost 200 years ago?
    Sorry, I might be going a bit off message – wrong demographics , yes Shyankaran lalla? What a comedy show life in this once blessed country has evolved into! The challenge is however to decipher , who should be pointing the fingers, and where to? It’s getting to complex for me, can I afford aplot or two of land in Grenada , or Angullia?

  5. Thank you Neal ,Do you know that a crane crashed into the left lane Bailey Bridge two Sundays ago and the public is using the bridge as though nothing happened..Do you know that a crane toppled at a school construction site in central Trinidad and that a person got killed after falling approx70′ from a building in the Carenege area.Well this is Trinidad 20/20 vision and although there is an OSH authority the people who serve there seems to be wearing blinkers.Could you imagine a minister telling people that they are not intelligent and right under his nose work is going on throughout the country without quality control procedures in place.I call on all the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to let your voices be heard whenever public funds is being spent ensure that you get quality for the millions which is being squandered away.

  6. Imbert hits Udecott
    WORKS and Transport Minister Colm Imbert yesterday criticised several Udecott projects, arguing that the billion-dollar state agency “acted too late” to stop the wastage of millions at the Brian Lara Stadium project and that other Udecott projects have gone “terribly wrong”.

    Colm claims ambush by Khan

    Bid for Housing Minister to testify
    Diego Martin West MP Dr Keith Rowley’s legal team is calling on Housing Minister Emily Gaynor Dick-Forde to appear as a witness in the Commission of Enquiry into the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) and the construction sector.

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