A view of the apartment towers at Edinburgh 500, from the eastern side of the site.
RISING COST: The mobilisation of a crane on the southern side of the East Tower gives evidence of work having restarted at Alexandria Towers, Edinburgh 500, Chaguanas.
Housing Minister: Camille Robinson-Regis

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A view of the apartment towers at Edinburgh 500, from the eastern side of the site.
RISING COST: The mobilisation of a crane on the southern side of the East Tower gives evidence of work having restarted at Alexandria Towers, Edinburgh 500, Chaguanas.
Housing Minister: Camille Robinson-Regis
If you drive south along La Clave Street in Chaguanas and pass the Caparo River on your way into Edinburgh 500, you may observe a beehive of activity at two towering buildings.
Those buildings, which sit near the community of Brentwood in Chaguanas, represent a Housing Development Corporation (HDC) apartment complex known as Alexandria Towers.
When it was conceptualised, it was described as one of the keys to reducing the country’s housing stock shortage.
Today, there are those who believe it’s just another example of a development project turned into a political football, and as a result, a wastage of taxpayers’ dollars.
“It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money as there are several unanswered questions surrounding the project,” resident of the area David Peter told the Sunday Express last week.
Stating that he had observed cracks in the building, Peter asked: “How sturdy is the structure being so close to the river bank? What is the next step? Who will be occupying these buildings? All these are concerns I have.”
Another resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, questioned the use of money to complete the project.
“In my opinion, the monies allocated to finishing it could be considered a waste as it could have been rerouted to a project that’s more pressing, such as the construction of a flyover to ease the ridiculous traffic we experience here,” he said.
Saying that it takes at least 30 minutes to get out of Edinburgh 500 on mornings, he said while he was not against the completion of the project since a considerable sum of money has been spent, the fact that the project has been stalled for so long, alleviating the traffic issue could have taken precedence over its completion.
The Sunday Express has been following the start-stop history of the project with more than $100 million being spent on the towers.
Initiated under Patrick Manning’s PNM administration in 2005, the project was designed to deliver 118 residential apartments and 16 commercial units at a cost of $140 million.
However, in 2008 the HDC took a decision to terminate the contract because it was not satisfied with the progress of works.
A change of government in 2010 saw the former People’s Partnership take over the project. What followed were several explanations from both the PNM and the Partnership as to why the project was halted, along with promises regarding its completion, none of which materialised.
In September 2014, then-managing director of HDC Jearlean John told the Sunday Express that in 2008 HDC adopted a construction management approach whereby multiple contracts were awarded for different construction elements, which included block and concrete work, electrical, plumbing, steel and finishes.
She said that approach proved unsuccessful due to coordination and other project management issues, which resulted in delays in progress and cost increases, so in 2011 a decision was taken by the HDC to suspend the project.
At that point, $114,911,263.14 of the original construction cost of $140 million had been spent.
John indicated then that tenders for the completion of the towers were issued and evaluations were ongoing, and added that the award of contract was expected to be made in October that year and works completed within 18 months.
A year on from John’s pronouncement, then-housing minister Dr Roodal Moonilal said the HDC estimated it would cost about $200 million to redesign and complete construction of the two abandoned apartment towers.
Labelling the Alexandria Towers a “sick project”, Moonilal said his government intended to clean up all projects like that.
However, work never restarted, and the completion of the towers came into question again in 2017.
Questioned at a Public Administration and Appropriations Committee in April 2017, HDC’s then-managing director Brent Lyons said the Corporation had new designs for the towers which would now cost $140 million to complete.
Following Lyons’ statement, housing minister at the time Randall Mitchell said they were able to reduce the cost to $110 million but needed to source financing.
When the Sunday Express spoke with Mitchell in April 2018, he said:
“Under the last administration they tried to replicate Victoria Keyes. They tried to make the apartments larger and create multi-storey car parks, pools and a clubhouse.”
“We came in, we definitely had no money to replicate a Victoria Keyes, to spend that amount, so we reduced the scope and value engineered the thing back down to what is was supposed to be, low to middle-income housing.
“So, we removed all those designs out of it, constantly negotiated to get prices down and were able to reduce the cost to complete, and we’re presently in talks with the Ministry of Finance to source the funding to complete the towers,” Mitchell said then.
He said a tender was done to secure the services of a contractor, but could not say if one was selected, and added that upon completion, the apartments would most likely be distributed as rentals.
However, Moonilal, who gave a different view, insisted that the towers should have been completed by the PNM Government under Dr Keith Rowley.
“The problem with those towers is that they were badly designed, with serious engineering flaws with regard to drainage and other matters, but we had gone through the process of re-evaluating the project.
“We had done all the work already, the engineering work, the analysis, surveys, refurbishment plan, so all the technical work was completed. It was just a matter of having the contractor complete the project and one was selected via an open tendering process, so it was left to this Government to execute the project.”
He said a completion figure of $90 million was estimated so there was no reason why the Government could not have finished the project.
He cited a number of housing projects that were left in the pipeline and were still incomplete.
In 2018, former housing minister Pennelope Beckles announced the resumption of the project during a key-distribution ceremony for new homeowners at Riverside North in Corinth, San Fernando.
At that ceremony, HDC chairman Noel Garcia told the media that after an analysis of the project and its structural integrity by engineers, HDC was given clearance to proceed.
“At that time, we were getting a cost of approximately $700,000 per unit to finish…Through the efforts of HDC and collaboration with the small and medium-sized contractors, we have gone out for competitive bidding and we anticipate to bring each one of those units in at a final cost of approximately $475,000,” Garcia said then.
Despite the significant cost overruns accumulated on the project, Garcia said it should cost successful applicants around $475,000 for the two and three-bedroom units and this should cater to people earning a salary of between $5,000 and $9,000 monthly.
He added then that the HDC did not consider the project a financial loss, as the aim was to provide affordable housing to low-income earners.
The HDC chairman said successful applicants could acquire these housing units on a rent-to-own basis, with the two-bedroom units costing $1,200 and the three-bedroom ones $1,500 per month.
“The original plan was to have it completed and put on the open market for sale. But as the minister said, the Government’s focus is on affordable housing reaching that class of workers or clients, who fall into that bracket of between $5,000-$9,000 per month,” Garcia said then.
With works having finally restarted following a 15-year delay, the Sunday Express reached out last week to Housing Minister Camille Robinson-Regis, who indicated that $98.156 million has been budgeted for the completion of the towers.
Following are Robinson-Regis’ responses to questions posed by the Sunday Express:
Have there been any adjustments/alterations to the scope of the project?
“In July 2015, designs were approved for the infrastructure and associated infrastructure. No further alterations or adjustments were made to the scope of the project.”
Has a system been arrived at as to how these apartments will be allocated upon completion?
“The HDC shall employ the Cabinet-approved Allocation Policy to select eligible applicants to purchase units.”
You would have inherited this project as part of your ministerial portfolio, but can you offer a reason/explanation as to why this project has been outstanding for 15 years, and has it become a political football?
“This project has been on a meandering road to completion from its start in March 2005. The project was halted in May 2011 to allow for the project to be assessed and repackaged. The project was tendered in October 2013 and the selection of a preferred bidder was not completed until July 2015.
“In 2016, negotiations were commenced with the contractor with the view to reduce the overall unit cost to prospective purchasers. After several failed negotiations, the HDC decided to employ another implementation strategy for the completion of the project. Assessment and restoration works commenced in 2021.”
When projects like these get delayed, do you think they provide value for money to the taxpayers at the end?
“The statement ‘Time equals money’ is not cliché, but a statement of fact. When projects like these are delayed, it is the responsibility of the State through its agencies to identify the cause of the delays and mitigate losses so that the overall project objectives are achieved. Ultimately, the beneficiaries of the projects and, in the case of HDC projects, the beneficiaries of the subsidised housing units, are the taxpaying citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.”
The housing minister said a 2024 completion deadline for the project has been targeted, with the East Tower scheduled to be completed in May and the West Tower in June.
“A breadfruit tree in every backyard.”
THE Cold Case Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) has charged a suspect for a murder that took place in Belmont 11 years ago.
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If you drive south along La Clave Street in Chaguanas and pass the Caparo River on your way into Edinburgh 500, you may observe a beehive of activity at two towering buildings.
Car thieves are least likely to be caught by police in this country. The rate of crime increased generally between September 2022 and September 2023, with the lowest detection rate in the area of larceny of motor vehicles.
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