T&T woman, 105, still waiting for house repairs two years after minister’s promise

(Trinidad Express) Two years ago, Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh promised to build centenarian Violet Riviere a new room at her Crichlow Hill, Morvant home.

It was a birthday promise made on January 22 — her 103rd birthday — relatives recall.

Ramadharsingh came to the area with a lot of fanfare and media as he celebrated the centenarian’s birthday, complete with flowers and cake, they told the Sunday Express.

Work did not start until May of 2012.

Riviere, who is now 105 years old, is still waiting for that room.

The cost of the project, which involved the construction of a retaining wall and inclusive of labour and materials, was estimated at $60,000. It was being done under the umbrella of Ramadharsingh’s Direct Impact Initiative, a social outreach programme designed to assist people in need.

The Sunday Express visited Riviere last Wednesday and found that while some work was done, the annex is nowhere near completion. Opposition Member of Parliament for the area, NiLeung Hypolite, has described the situation as “shameful”.

Riviere now sleeps in another room which gets wet whenever it rains. This is a new problem which occurred when the dilapidated room was broken down and the area where both rooms connected was left open. Relatives now use old clothes to block it off.

Riviere’s relatives explained that woodlice from the bamboo decking used to start the new room have now infested the rest of the house, causing additional worries.

“There is no follow-up of the job. Nobody is coming to see what is happening,” a relative said.

Contacted for comment last week, Minister Ramadharsingh immediately recalled the project, but said there was a problem with the retaining wall, which he described as being “way above budget”.

“We have spent more than $100,000 on that project and it is just a matter of finishing the job,” he said.

But relatives are disputing the cost, saying if that is the case, then $100,000 worth of material did not come to their home.

They said they have been forced to buy materials to push the job along.

Ramadharsingh told the Sunday Express he was waiting “until the budget is passed” and assured that work will continue on the project.

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