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The Prime Minister Moves Back To Whitehall

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PORT-OF-SPAIN – COME Monday Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his staff will move into Whitehall.

He will be the first prime minister to use it as his official office since it was closed for renovations because of leaking roofs and bad floors under the tenure of Patrick Manning in 2009.

Prime ministers have used Whitehall as the Office of Prime Minister since Dr Eric Williams. George Chambers, Arthur NR Robinson, Manning and Basdeo Panday have all used it. Only Kamla Persad-Bissessar had to use the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair Avenue, St Clair.

Speaking at the reopening ceremony at Whitehall on Thursday, Rowley said his office took de­liv­ery of the struc­ture from the Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Com­pa­ny of Trinidad and To­ba­go (UDe­COTT).

He said UDeCOTT had done ex­ten­sive re­pairs.

Rowley said, “To­day we ac­cept from the con­trac­tors and the UDe­COTT staff, White­hall, which the staff is be­gin­ning to move in­to, and over the week­end they will con­tin­ue, and the prime min­is­ter will work here for the first time next week. Next Mon­day, the prime min­is­ter will come here to work for the first time in a very long, long time.”

Rowley de­fend­ed the $32 million cost.

He said, “Sym­bol­ism is im­por­tant, his­to­ry is im­por­tant be­cause it con­nects you to who you are.”

Row­ley said the com­mit­tee to re­store the coun­try’s her­itage build­ings was al­so far ad­vanced with the work on Pres­i­dent’s House.

He said, “In the not-too-dis­tant fu­ture I trust that Her Ex­cel­len­cy would in­vite some of us to the re­oc­cu­pa­tion to an­oth­er icon­ic build­ing, Pres­i­dent’s House, which is to be re­opened and made avail­able for oc­cu­pan­cy in the very near fu­ture.”

Rowley said the chambers currently occupied by the Parliament at the Waterfront will be con­vert­ed in­to civ­il court­rooms when the Par­lia­ment re­turns to the Red House lat­er this year.

“These civ­il courts will al­low the Hall of Jus­tice to be used sole­ly for crim­i­nal mat­ters,” he said.

He said restora­tion work, being done by engineers from Cuba, on Mille Fleurs was al­so pro­gress­ing well.

White­hall, built in 1904 and called Rosen­weg, is the sec­ond north­ern­most of the Mag­nif­i­cent Sev­en build­ings and was a pri­vate house un­til it was pur­chased by the Gov­ern­ment of Trinidad and To­ba­go in 1954.

It was built by Joseph Leon Agostini, a cocoa planter.

 

 

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