Govt pays over $50M in rent for temporary court
…to revert to original facility next month
After paying over $50m in rental for the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court to be alternatively housed at Lot 92 Middle Street, Georgetown. Government is hoping to end its tenancy this February.
This is according to Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Juan Edghill, who said that Government began renting the premises in March 2011 at US$11,000 (G$2.2M) per month.
This accumulated to more than the reported “just under $50M” the landlord paid for the building from the failed Globe Trust Company.
Rental of the building could have ended several months ago when expansion and rehabilitaton works had ended at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court building located at Avenue of the Republic and Brickdam. However, additional works were requested by the Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh.
According to Evadney Mangar, Project Coordinator of the Justice Sector Modernization Programme under the Supreme Court, while construction works were being carried out pertinent works were not catered for.
For instance, walkways needed to be raised to avoid court users from walking in flood water.
Justice Singh, last August, had told Kaieteur News that the Magistrates’ Court could be occupied in its present state, if there were no other alternative, but the environment would be very uncomfortable for Magistrates and court users.
However, some persons believe that the temporary building being occupied is inappropriate for a Court. There have been complaints that the building is not suitable to house a Court since it lacks adequate seating in and out of courtrooms, and ventilation is poor.
There is no backup generator so when there is no electricity, windows and doors within the Court have to be opened to let in light. Sometimes there is no running water. The toilet facilities are oftentimes unhygienic.
Nonetheless, Government continued to conduct court proceedings at the rented premises.
For several months no construction works were executed on the Magistrates’ Court because of negotiations with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that provided the loan for the Justice Sector Modernization Programme.
Edghill believes that after reviewing the Chancellor’s request and negotiating with the IDB the sum of $20M was slated for the works.
Edghill stated that the contractor, PD Contracting Services, who renovated the building, has commenced constructing certain specific features. The contractor is tasked with constructing independent walkways for Magistrates; rehabilitating public sanitary facilities; executing electrical works; and ensuring adequate water pressure is available for the building.
These works will complement the already completed works.
According to Mangar, the contractor had expanded the building to accommodate four additional courtrooms increasing the number to nine. Those works cost $69M.
Moreover, the old building was rehabilitated to a tune of $19M.