Chief Secretary Orville London has offered to arbitrate in the impasse between the National Insurance Board (NIB) and the 40 tenants of the NIB Mall in downtown Scarborough.
He has already spoken to the Chairman of the NIB who has agreed to a meeting next Monday afternoon but is yet to get agreement from the tenants for the meeting at his Calder Hall office.
He told Wednesday’s weekly post Executive Council media briefing there was an impasse, something like a standoff between the NIB and the tenants over the structural integrity of the 30-year-old Mall.
He said the NIB had taken a decision that the Mall had reached a state of deterioration and that there was imminent danger while the tenants have gotten a report from two reputable Tobago engineers Dr Allison Williams and Junior Henry whose conclusions defer significantly from those of the NIB Mall engineers.
London added that the two engineers have indicated that their observations and their evaluation do not indicate any imminent danger and in fact the structural integrity of the Mall has not been compromised to the extent where there was need for immediate demolition.
He said he also received from an independent engineer a slightly difference angle where he had indicated that demolition was no longer a first option when the structural integrity of a building came into question. London said he was informed that there were various types of technologies which have been utilised and were available to bring the structure up to the Codes that must be in operation at this time.
He noted that Metropolitan countries have developed this technology that was able without demolition to actually strengthen the building in ways that it can meet the Codes.
London said he indicated to the NIB Chairman that in light of all this conflicting technical information the Assembly was willing to host a meeting between the NIB and the Mall tenants.
The Chief Secretary said: “We are hoping to achieve in that meeting, one of two things either we are in a position where we can agree on a way forward from the technical information that was brought to the table or conversely we can agree on an individual or a firm or a process that will guarantee when the process is concluded or the individual or firm reports that all the parties will accept that.”
He added: “That is the mindset with which I am going into that meeting hoping that at the end of the exercise there will be some kind of resolution that is not reckless and is not insensitive. The THA remains committed to resolving this issue in a manner that will ensure that the safety of the people is kept as paramount but also ensuring that we do not take any precipitate decision that will be disadvantageous either to the Mall tenants, their clients or to the development of Scarborough.”