Hazel Manning, former Government Minister and widow of the late Prime Minister, Patrick Manning, has responded to the false remarks made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Saturday.
At a key distribution ceremony in St James on Saturday, Rowley blamed Manning for some of the housing problems.
But Hazel did not lie down and take these remarks lightly. She put pen to paper and issued a press release on Sunday.
The following is her press statement:
“Facts are stubborn things. They are very hard to go away.” -Patrick Manning.
I have recently returned from Costa Rica where I volunteered with over 250 coaches to facilitate the implementation of the programme “Transformation Begins With Me.” This programme is similar to our Vision 2020 and/or Vision 2030.
In Costa Rica, I witnessed consensus building at its very best as representatives from TheCongress, The University, Public Service, Health, Police and Teaching Services, Non Profit Organisations, Small and Large Private Businesses, Churches and Community Organisations came together in mutual agreement to find ways to improve the quality of life of all the citizens.
On returning home to Trinidad and Tobago, I was stopped short by headlines full of acrimony and blame about Vieux Fort Housing Development, St. James, in particular, articles arguing, that based on reports from a Cabinet colleague about another project, Prime Minister Patrick Manning stopped the Vieux Fort Project.
I believe that it is my responsibility to reply on Patrick’s behalf and to find the peace I found in Costa Rica where development is taking place in a harmonious setting.
Taking a page from Patrick’s many lessons I remembered that he often said that “Facts are stubborn things. They are very hard to go away.” Therefore, I ask the following questions to obtain the facts so that we can move on to develop this country and improve the quality of life for the benefit of all citizens. My beloved husband gave his all to see this country’s development come to pass:
• What is the true story of the discrepancy that surrounds the $10 million dollars, at the Cleaver Height Project, Arima? What was said in the Parliament to cause Patrick to ask such a question? Who can connect the dots for me between the $10 million dollars and Vieux Fort, which did not add up in my mind? Could the Minister of the time, senior staff members of HDC or the contractor himself tell this country the story of what occurred, with facts and figures, so that the truth could be peacefully laid to rest?
• The true story of the Vieux Fort Housing Project.
With this in mind, I am of the view that it is imperative that the following specific questions be answered so that the true story of the Vieux Fort Project may come to light for the benefit of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and my beloved husband.
The specific questions are:
– An injunction was filed in 2008 to prevent construction on the site. When did the court give its final verdict to start construction?
– When were the residents removed from the site to facilitate construction?
– When were the designs for the structures completed?
– When did construction actually begin?
– When were the statutory approval received from the various government agencies?
– How effective was the quality control management on the site? How much was the cost over run on the project?
– What was the length of the time delay that resulted?
– How many contractors were terminated?
– How long did it take for the HDC to undertake a new detailed planning and design exercise?
– When were the new design consultants hired?
– When were the new tenders issued?
– When was the new revised completion date reached?
Can The HDC provide the public with the facts about this project please?
As you gather the data, in chronological order, I want to remind citizens that Patrick Manning was removed from office in May 2010.
He suffered a debilitating stroke in January 2013 and died in July 2016. I can say without fear of contradiction that Patrick would never stop a project in the manner outlined in the media. It was not in his nature.
As we move forward to 2030 let us learn from the lessons of the past to build consensus, peace, and sustainable development. I saw a great thing happening in Costa Rica. People were forgiving others as they prepared to transform and be responsible citizens to take part in transforming their nation together. I yearn for such a process and transformation in our nation. I am working on myself and those closest to me. What about you?”