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Karamath heartened by Sancho’s Tarouba Stadium take
As he was forced to do more than two years ago the Executive Chairman of the Karamath Group of Companies, Yashmid Ellis, has come out in a strong defense of the construction of the controversial Tarouba Stadium to protect the integrity of the firm contracted to build the facility, Hafeez Karamath Limited (HKL).
This time he is doing so after the newly-appointed Sports Minister Brent Sancho, recently expressed disappointment that the Tarouba Stadium has not yet been completed and not in use.
Speaking to reporters touring the National Cycling Velodrome in Couva, Sancho told the T&T Guardian: “It is a disappointment when you look at the amount of money spent and it is just sitting there. I would hope that at some point some sort of salvaging can be done.
“I want to see proper usage. I want to see it become an income generator for the country, I want to see less tax payers dollars being spent and even if it is spent it is an investment and this investment can grow into monies being earned.”
The stadium, which began under the previous government, is now under the purview of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (Udecott).
Yesterday the normally reclusive Karamath, who shies away from giving interviews to the media, told the Sunday Guardian that he was gratified that Sancho saw the benefits that the Tarouba Stadium could bring to T&T, particularly the athletes who would be the main users of the plant the cost of which is still in doubt—“I am an action man not a compulsive talker.”
The principal reason he claimed why the Tarouba Stadium was not yet opened was politics—from all sides of the equation.
Referring to some of the “unfounded” allegations about the work done on the Stadium, Karamath said his company sent documents to the Uff Commission of Inquiry to justify every aspect of the work carried out which it was requested to do so by the Commission.
He said that in spite of the allegations made against the firm the Commission never called them to give their side of the story, and only “God knows where they got their information from.”
Stressing that the company did not ignore stop orders Karamath explained because the consultants and designers were all foreigners, HKL thought they would not have a proper appreciation of local conditions and standards so they proceeded to do what they knew was acceptable in the T&T context.
On the allegation that some $1 billion was spent on the project Karamath is still alarmed about where that figure emanated from.
“Try for the life of me and HKL, I cannot fathom where this magical amount materialised from. I maintain up to this day that HKL received $500 million which sum is contained in a draft final account that was prepared by an Independent quantity surveyor hired by Udecott to reconcile the contract.
“Where did the balance of money go?…We can account for every cent spent on that project and Udecott knows the truth. We will soon publish the figures and I am sure as night follows day we did not receive a billion dollars on that project.”
One debilitating feature of what he termed was the unfair publicity HKL got for the Tarouba Stadium dispute was that the company was being squeezed out of other contracts.
“This to me is so unfair that HKL is being made to suffer from a situation that we did not create, we did not instigate, we never went against the terms of our contract...yet we are being hurt because we did all the right and proper things to fulfill our side of the contract. Is this fair?” he cried.
Arguing that HKL should not be denied the right to be considered for a contract or contracts because of perceptions over the Tarouba contract Karamath deemed this highly offensive and prejudicial.
Pointing out that HKL still has a physical presence at the Tarouba site security guards and dogs included, the company’s executive chairman was adamant that the main impediment to the completion and opening of the project was politics.
Karamath said:“I also do not want to involve the new sports minister Brent Sancho in this senseless imbroglio and I am indeed heartened that he has seen the potential benefits that the Tarouba Stadium would be to our sportsmen and sports women.
“However I maintain that this unfortunate situation is being fuelled by naked politics and I am hoping that those responsible could see the wisdom of bringing a satisfactory end to this sorry impasse as it has gone on for far too long and let us think about the nation’s interest before anything else.”
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