New highway endangers La Romaine RC church

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: The San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway. Photo by Narissa Fraser

THE construction of the highway from San Fernando to Point Fortin has affected the stability of the St Benedict RC Church, La Romaine, which is in danger of collapsing.

Having appealed unsuccessfully to the Government to help save the building, the parish is seeking to raise approximately $5 million to improve the infrastructure, through goodwill and fundraising activities.

Parish priest Msgr Christian Pereira said while the construction of the highway has affected the stability of the land, the soil quality has added to the slippage problem.

He said the parish has also appealed to the Penal Debe Regional Corporation, since some of the water from neighbouring buildings drains through the church’s property.

He told Newsday there is a dire need to improve the infrastructure around the church.

“There is evident land movement affecting the administration building, in which the parish office and hall are located, the Garden of Peace, where the remains of deceased persons are secured in niches, and the priest’s residence.”

He explained the planned improvement of the infrastructure was stalled during the pandemic, but recently received the approval and the support of the Chancery office to restart.

Pereira said the churchis starting a major project of land stabilisation and internal road repairs. He saidit has a specific scope of works which has been sent to various contractors inviting them to tender.

“We need to stabilise the land, arrest the slippage. We need to construct a major box drain to securely guide the flow of the water out of the compound. We also need to repair and secure the roadway.

“Our parish engineers have been doing extensive research and analysis of the way forward. We have done soil surveys, secured the advice of professionals in the field and prepared our own company estimate.”

A meeting was scheduled for Wednesday to present contractors with the scope of works and the way their bid should be presented, as well as the opportunity to query any aspect of the job.

He said tenders, to be submitted within a specific time frame, will be evaluated by the building committee.

The successful bidder is expected to complete the project within a 12-week period.

“The anticipated cost of the project is between $4.4 million to $5 million.

“We are appealing to the Catholic community and the wider national community, interested benefactors and corporate citizen to include us in their budget.”

In the interim, Pereira said the parish has organised a number of fundraising activities to kick-start the project, including a concert at the Naparima Bowl on June 12, to celebrate mothers and fathers.

An online bingo game has also been planned.

On July 10, the parish will host its inaugural golf tournament at the Pointe-a-Pierre Golf Club and golfers from across the country have been invited to take part.

How to donate:

For the golf tournament, Pereira said: “Special prizes will be awarded and golfers interested in supporting our venture can contact the parish office at 302-8255 or Juliette Gopaulsingh at 768-4935.

“Benefactors and well-wishers can also make donations towards our prize, via cheque payable to La Romaine RC Church or direct transfer to our Republic Bank Ltd, Gulf View account, number 740-801-136-601, in the name of the RC Archbishop of Port of Spain/La Romaine Parishes.”