Sod turned for new Social Development Ministry

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox – Photo by Sureash Cholai

THE Prime Minister, with the support of nearly his entire Cabinet, marked the start of construction of a new headquarters for the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services in Port of Spain on March 11.

The project, at the corner of Tragarete Road and Victoria Avenue, is being undertaken by the Urban Development Company (Udecott) and is expected to be delivered in March, 2026.

Social Development Minister Donna Cox said the final product will be a one-stop shop, with improved accessibility, and that greater efficiency afforded by the purpose-built project will allow the ministry to better streamline its services to vulnerable citizens.

“Overall, the digitalisation of our services will provide (a) better experience for our clients,” Cox said.

“The comfort and job satisfaction among staff is expected to result in increased productivity (and) the cost savings from eliminating the ministry’s rental properties are positive outcomes we look forward to.”

The building will have parking for 200 cars, with additional room for landscaping. It will house administration offices, conference rooms, training facilities, customer service and counselling areas, with “appropriate and convenient access” for people with disabilities.

“This project demonstrates the heart of the ministry to deliver premium social services towards the achievement of sustainable development…and our commitment to improving the wellbeing of individuals and families across our nation,” said Cox.

In his feature address, Rowley said many had shown interest in the site, which is prime land, after the government printery, which used to stand there, was demolished. The government, he said, still decided to lend it to the Desperadoes steelband, which moved there temporarily from its original home in Laventille in 2015 because of space constraints and safety concerns.

Desperadoes has now moved to a $14 million facility in George Street, Port of Spain, purpose-built by Udecott.

Rowley said, “(As we) were planning what to do with it, we lent it to Despers and I was a little concerned that we were not going to be able, in the timeframe we had intended, to get Despers out of this site so that it could be used for the planned purpose.

“But today I want to thank Despers’ leadership for co-operating with the government, and I want to thank Udecott again for ensuring Despers has and had a modern pan theatre in Port of Spain, so they were happy to leave here and to go to where they belong, in East Port of Spain, Laventille.”