From time to time I receive information that could be considered to be of National importance that warrants discussion at the highest levels, and this is one of those that needs urgent attention from the powers that be.
Because of this writing no one can say that they DID NOT know, and should anything untoward occur, the newly enlightened should be held criminally liable if they take no action to safeguard the public.
This was sent to me by qualified people acting out of concern:
"In recent decades, whenever there has been a severe hurricane or earthquake in the Caribbean, hospitals have suffered as much damage as less important facilities. We do not need to be reminded about the Haiti earthquake this year. But we may need to be reminded about hospitals knocked out of action in Dominica, Jamaica, Montserrat, Antigua, Sint Maarten, St Kitts and Grenada in the past three decades.
For nearly two decades engineers with a knowledge of the fundamentals of earthquake-resistant design who have visited the Port of Spain General Hospital have been commenting on the clearly and seriously vulnerable concepts of the six story Main Central Block. It is understood that this was brought to the attention of the authorities as long ago as the early 1990s and on several subsequent occasions.
The reasons for the concerns would be obvious to many knowledgeable professionals – architects and engineers working in areas subject to earthquakes. The reasons are manifest because they have to do with the fundamental geometrical characteristics of the Central Block. In determining the vulnerability of buildings to earthquakes the shape of the building and type and configuration of the structure are very important. In many buildings these characteristics can be assessed, at least in a preliminary sense, without detailed analysis. Such is the case with the Central Block. The casual, but observant, visitor to the Hospital could also notice distress to some of the columns in this building.
It would not be surprising if the Central Block collapsed during an earthquake of the severity envisaged by the recommended standards for Trinidad.
In January this year a number of oxygen tanks exploded in the intensive care ward of a hospital in the Ukraine causing three floors to collapse and killing 16 people. To compound the structural problems of the Central Block, the main oxygen storage facility for the Hospital is located very close to the building. Is this safe?
All of these features are noticeable to any private visitor to the Hospital who happens to be observant and knowledgeable about earthquake-resistant design of buildings.
Something can, and should, be done about this as an urgent matter."
I would like to ask the Honorable Prime Minister to look into this matter as, should the worst occur and we suffer a serious earthquake or other catastrophe, it would certainly be better for all if the General Hospital did not collapse.
If I were in her shoes I would dispatch the Minister of Health to conduct an urgent verification exercise as to the veracity of this information, and to take immediate steps to evacuate the areas of the facility most vulnerable to collapse.
It would be wise that those with interests and qualifications in these types of matters be included in a discussion with a view to an effective solution, as it is much better to be safe than sorry.