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Would south UWI campus suffer Couva hospital fate?

Education Minister Anthony Garcia has sounded an ominous note on the future of the Penal-Debe campus of the University of the West Indies.

Garcia has expressed “grave concern” over – of all things – “a variety of courses that would be offered.”

The minister intoned that the $500 million project “does not meet the satisfaction of this government.”

He gave no timeline for dealing with the matter or for putting the 100-acre campus to use.

The campus was built to expand educational opportunities and to ease the burdens of students of South Trinidad who journey to St. Augustine campus or rent nearby apartments at high costs.

Garcia, incidentally, is a former president of Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUA) and so ought to be familiar with difficulties in the sector.

This is the government’s first comment on this project.

A few days after the September 2015 general election, former President Max Richards claimed there was a “reluctance of academic staff based at St. Augustine to commute to Penal.’

Richards was blazed by a number of education experts – including UWI Principal Clem Sankat – for these and other comments.

The southern university campus now joins the $1.5 billion Couva Children’s Hospital as public facilities with doubtful futures.

The Rowley regime has consistently criticised aspects of the hospital, the most recent being last Friday, when Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh against spoke of a shortage of relevant medical personnel.

Deyalsingh has repeatedly declined to indicate if and when the costly project would be put to public use.

Both projects have set back taxpayers a total of $2 billion and are considered by many to be crucial in delivering expanded health care and educational opportunities.

Some observers are already pointing to a similarity with the Biche High School, which a previous PNM Government kept closed for years on claims of health and safety risks.

A successive government opened the facility and it has still operated without such problems.

The current administration has also stopped construction activities on the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway but has indicated that work would resume on a phased basis.

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