Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, centre, Minister of National Security Stuart Young, left and Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh turn the sod as contractor Emile Elias looks on during a ceremony for the Ministry of Health headquarters, Queen’s Park Savannah East, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley will not allow anyone to belittle or detract from his vision and efforts to revitalise Port-of-Spain.

He is urging constituents where projects have been identified, not to be swayed by talk of being removed from their homes, and instead embrace the welcome changes aimed at improving the quality of their lives.

Addressing the nation before turning the sod for the Ministry of Health’s headquarters at Queen’s Park East, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, Dr Rowley said greater partnerships with the private sector will be the norm going forward.

He said efforts to bring back life to the capital would see the repopulation of a place that had become largely vacant as people migrated outwards during recent years.

He warned that there was a law that allows Government to carry out “slum clearance,” adding, “So those who want to encourage people to not cooperate with the Government…that has already been dealt with by law.”

He explained once an area is determined to be sub-standard for human habitation, the slum clearance law can be used.

Pointing to the construction of several apartment buildings now referred to as Clifton Towers at St Paul Street, which he said went smoothly and without any fuss, Dr Rowley said it has been done before and there was no reason why it cannot be done again now.

He confirmed that many people migrated outwards in search of housing over the years.

“Port-of-Spain in its current situation, it can support a much larger population without too much more expenditure on infrastructure.”

Additionally, he said as infrastructural investments are made, it would improve the quality of lives of citizens living in the city.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh revealed it was in March 1981, that the site had been originally selected as the headquarters for the Ministry of Health (MoH).

While designs were done before, he said evolution and commitment now guaranteed its reality.

With NH International (Caribbean) Limited named as the contractor and UDeCOTT as the engineer, the eight-storey building which will feature 282 parking spaces, is expected to be completed within two years at an estimated cost of TT$249,468,110 VAT exclusive.

In providing details for the site located at 5 Queen’s Park East, Deyalsingh said early work included demolition of old buildings and clearing of the site.

Construction is expected to begin during the first quarter of 2021, as the contract was only signed on March 9, 2020.

Boasting the new administrative building would enable health authorities to manage its’ business from one location as opposed to being spread out now, Deyalsingh said the cost savings to be realised upon completion was around $10 million per year.

Having to rent five separate locations within Port-of-Spain to house various departments of the MoH, Deyalsingh provided a break-down of the ministry’s monthly rental commitments.

He said rent for the main office at Park and Edward Streets was $393,824.60; the Park Plaza Building at St Vincent Street was $94,771.30; the Sacred Heart Building at Sackville Street was $177,000; the gym at Edward Street was $13,000; and the Pan American Health Organization office was $134,163.75.

Eager to amalgamate all these services in one central location, Deyalsingh said it would lead to a synergy among all departments.