Parliament building in Kingstown.

The government has begun to look for alternative accommodation for the offices in the 200-year-old building that houses the High Court and national assembly in Kingstown.

Minister of Works, Sen. Julian Francis told Parliament on Thursday that the current building replaced another in 1798.

He said he could not find anything substantial that was done to the building since it was constructed.

“I think a lot of us sit here when we come to Parliament and we look up at the ceiling and we can see evidence of deterioration,” he said of the building, which has ferns growing on parts of the ceiling and trees on the outside.

“Termites have taken a toll,” Francis further said in a ministerial statement.

“These types of buildings have a lot of spaces and hollow areas that termites live in and to get rid of them, it has to be almost demolition and fumigation,” he told lawmakers and media audiences.

Francis said that while some expertise to renovate the building exists in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it is going to mean a big tarpaulin coming from “way overseas to be able to cover this and to fumigate it”.

He, however, said that increasingly and within recent times, the discomfort of the occupants of the buildings is increasing.

The minister said that during a recent rainfall, water came down the parapet, down the sides of the building and into walls and the electrical circuitry in the master’s and judge’s chambers was flooded with water.

“And I think it is time that we make a decision as to what to do with it. It is something that we knew has to be done and it has gotten to the point where we have to do something about it,” Francis said.

Plant growth inside the Parliament building last October. (iWN photo)

He said that when the Unity Labour Party took office in 2001, it did some face-lifting of the premises, air conditioned it, and “brought a little modernity to it”.

He, however, noted that the floor of the building is wooden and the wood has to be replaced very frequently.

Francis said that in renovating, the government will try to maintain the aesthetics of the building, adding that the National Trust has interest in the structure.

“But we are going to have to find temporary residence for the occupants of the building, including the house of parliament.”

He said the government is looking for a property to rehabilitate and adjust to accommodate the Parliament and court chambers, Clerk of the House of Assembly and the Speaker’s offices.

The government is considering the Lyric Building in Kingstown, and the terminal building of the decommissioned E.T. Joshua Airport, Francis said, adding that the terminal building is more structurally sound, but the government will get a report on the Lyric Building by the end of the week.

He said that the Roads, Bridges and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) is working on giving some estimates on both buildings, adding that there are other choices “but to have all under one roof as we have now will be the ideal situation…

“This is not going to happen overnight. Once we move out of this, one can expect a minimum of two, two and a half years before we can again re-enter this building permanently.

“It is not a building that we will want to demolish. It is a building that we will want to restore but it has to be assessed, it has to be properly assessed by the expert with this type of structure, get the repairs done,” Francis said, adding that he is sure that  Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves and Prime Minster Ralph Gonsalves will find the funds .

“… but it will take some time to get the details of it,” Francis said, adding, “But I want to assure the House and the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines that we have to do the job and we will move as quickly as possible to find alternative accommodation for all of us who use these premises.

6 replies on “Parliament building to be renovated”

  1. Agustus Carr says:

    The House of Parliament should be a Grand palatial building. Let’s make it bigger and better with proper seating like Jamaica, UK or Australia so we can all be proud of it. Not of that scale but in line with those concepts along with a very well manicured lawn. We must assert ourselves in the Region with pride.

    Put the design out for tender locally (only). This will give our architects and draftsmen an opportunity to design something that is ideally Vincentian. It must be the people’s parliament.

  2. The yard of the Parliament Building has been turned into one of the biggest parking lots in Kingstown. This should stop. These grounds should be a well maintained green zone with adequate vegetation and park benches etc, truely befitting of such a building. If they are determined on keeping the grounds as a parking lot, then persons should be made to pay for the parking in an effort to maintain the building with the funds.

  3. This building should be restored to its original form. If expansion is necessary it should be annexed to the existing building. And it should look modern. The grounds should be kept and the fencing should be restored painted and maintained regularly. And while they are at it clean up the drainage in Kingstown to. Restore the public library. building too. Employ people to work at cleaning up the town. The police headquarters could be used for housing a government ministry. Move the police to another location. This is the heart of Kingstown. It deserves it. We deserve it. Stop street vendors from buildings shacks right in the center of town. We are living in the millennia. We need regulation. the government should subsidize fisheries, put people to work. Subsidize sports, give people work to do and pay them. This can only mean good for us.

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