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.
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.