PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, March 16, 2013 – LARRY Howai, Minister of Finance and the Economy, yesterday signed a Loan Agreement with the Exim Bank of China for the construction of the much-awaited National Aquatic Centre, Cycling Velodrome/BMX Olympic Centre (Couva), Tennis Centre (Tacarigua), and three Multipurpose Facilities (Sangre Grande, San Juan and Chaguanas). Also in the agreement was the upgrade of the Ato Boldon Stadium and National Cricket Centre in Couva.
Speaking at the function yesterday morning, Anil Roberts, Minister of Sport, noted that many past governments promised the deliverance of the facility but boasted that it is finally here.
“Today the Aquatic Centre has been promised, it is coming, it is being built and it is here today on this historic occasion…We are creating in Couva a growth hold through sport. We have the Ato Boldon centre which will go through refurbishment in June to redo the track to Certified 2A and we have the football field that has hosted World Cups. We have the Balmain Cricket Centre, we will now have the Aquatic Centre, the Cycling Velodrome and a BMX Olympic Centre with future development for an Auto Sport Centre,” Roberts said.
The Minister noted that these projects will not only provide much-needed sporting venues but will improve the infrastructure in the Couva area.
“This will encourage private sector entrepreneurs to develop that area with hotels, restaurants, medical facilities, malls…In TT we are seeing a resurgence of growth since 2008 in the last quarter in seven sectors and with this construction project, this will add to job creation, the sustainability and increase in the industry to ensure our people have options to succeed and thrive,” he explained.
Roberts noted that his Government is hoping to diversify the economy through sport tourism as the facilities will bring many visitors to our shores.
“These facilities are made to the highest international standard, we have adjusted designs up to yesterday because FINA just approved a new type of starting block for backstroke swimmers and we have already put that in the design with Shanghai Construction,” he declared.
The Sport Minister revealed that the management of the USA swimming team has already communicated with them that they would like to use the Aquatic Centre as their training base when they intensify preparations for the 2016 Olympics.
“They took a tour of the facility yesterday…Let me tell you that $49.6 million already gone in the site and it has been all local (employment). John-Williams Construction has been doing all of the earth works,” he added.
“The idea is to ensure the facilities, once constructed, can bring economic opportunities to Trinidad and Tobago for generations to come and that they stay relevant for a minimum of 25 years before losing our competitive comparative advantage. Example, for the Aquatic Centre between December 3 and January 20, we envisage that after the Aquatic Centre is completed in September 2014 that the first group of guests will come to train in the winter months….In 2015 when the projects finish, we expect 50,000 guests per year which will generate about half a billion dollars a year,” he concluded.
First Published in Trinidad Newsday