Chinese contractor to appeal court’s ruling

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The failed Las Alturas Tower that was uninhabitable because of damaged caused by a land stabilization problem, the build was condemned and earmarked to be demolished,
The Las Alturas Housing Project built by the Housing Development Corporation, nestled in the hills of Morvant,
Las Alturas Housing Development, Morvant. – ROGER JACOB

Chinese contractor China Jiangsu International Corporation (TT) intends to appeal the decision in April of the High Court which ordered it to pay $30.1m to the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) for wasted expenditure on two blocks at the troubled Las Alturas Housing project in Morvant.

The HDC’s claim on negligence failed, but the judge agreed with its arguments on breach of contract, ordering China Jiangsu to repay the corporation specific sums related to the two apartment blocks which suffered structural damage and had to be demolished.

The contractor’s intention to appeal was announced in a statement on Friday.

It also took issue with a newspaper report which it said contained comments from “self-described experts and commentators on the construction industry” on the outcome of the decision by Justice David Harris on April 19.

China Jiangsu said it was “deeply appreciative of the goodwill that has been extended to it over the past 25 years by the people, the Government and the wider Caribbean.

“We have been actively involved in a number of large projects in Jamaica, Barbados, St Kitts and Grenada as well as Trinidad and Tobago. Almost all of these projects have been delivered on time and within budget.”

The contractor admitted there were a “number of difficulties with areas of the Las Alturas site.”

It added, “An independent commission of enquiry has published a report on the project.

“The company now intends to appeal the decision of the first instance judge and is confident that it will ultimately prevail in the courts.”

An 18-month public inquiry set up to investigate the entire process which led to the construction of the Las Alturas Towers at Lady Young Gardens, Morvant, and all other acts, was laid in Parliament in September 2016.

The two multi-storey units began falling apart after construction, and the $26 million towers were earmarked for demolition. They were part of a larger project, which was originally budgeted at $67 million and which later rose to $90 million.

The commission’s report stated that while there were no grounds for criminal proceedings to be brought against anyone, civil action could be taken against former Udecott and HDC executives.

Former Udecott chairman Calder Hart and former HDC managing director Noel Garcia subsequently challenged the commission’s findings against them. Garcia has been successful at the High Court while Hart is awaiting a ruling by the Court of Appeal on his challenge of an earlier decision by Harris in his lawsuit.