The Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) started 2018 with another round of downsizing as seven employees were told that their contracts will not be renewed by the state body.
The departing employees are Abdul Assalam (projects coordinator), Sheldon Jardine (sport officer), Donna Hashanah (clerical officer), Khadeesha Worrell-Sobers (project assistant), Michelle Burke (receptionist), Jason Atkinson and Joseph Sookermany (construction coordinators).
The exit dates were listed between 31 December 2017 and 2 January 2018 and Wired868 understands that the employees were informed two days before Christmas that their contracts would not be renewed, which means that they got roughly a week’s notice.
Four of the departing employees are from the Projects Department, which is responsible for construction works and the rehabilitation of sporting grounds, including the relaying of fields, construction of pavilions and other civil works.
SPORTT has attempted to cover for the loss in manpowerby reshuffling its remaining staff.
Last year, SPORTT, which is chaired by Dinanath Ramnarine, fired CEO Adam Montserin, Anthony Blake (facility manager), Jeewan Kowlessar (internal auditor), Naveen Maraj (legal officer), Mellie Price (project administrator) while the remainder of the contracts of Darryl Stewart (procurement supervisor), Raj Ramtahal (senior manager facilities maintenance) and Travis Watson (project coordinator) was bought out.
Another three resignations and the dismissal of a driver saw SPORTT release 19 workers in roughly three months. Since Sport Minister Darryl Smith came into office, the size of the Projects Department has been halved from between 25 to 30 employees to around 12 to 15 today.
Incidentally, Smith, who is also Diego Martin Central MP, revealed last year that Government is continuing with plans for a Diego Martin Sport Complex, which is expected to cost taxpayers roughly $130 million.
At present, of the country’s five main national stadia, only one, the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, is near to fully functional while the Hasely Crawford Stadium (Port-of-Spain), Mannie Ramjohn Stadium (Marabella), Larry Gomes Stadium (Malabar) and Dwight Yorke Stadium (Bacolet) are in varying stages of disrepair.
In mid-January, Trinidad and Tobago hosts the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship with 14 games scheduled to be played in just 10 days. All 14 matches are carded for the Ato Boldon venue.
Roughly 50 SPORTT employees—-more than half the current workforce-—will reach the end of their contracts between 31 January and 28 February and more downsizing is expected.
Acting CEO Jason Williams informed workers last year that SPORTT is “in serious financial difficulty” and the best they can look forward to is month-to-month contracts.
In related news, former SPORTT director and national cricketer Imran Jan has apologised to director Phillip Whiteman for suggesting that he did not disclose his relationship with Shanghai Construction Group (SCG) when he joined the State board.
Jan described the assertion as “an attempt to discredit Mr Whiteman,” who is the stepfather of national cyclist Njisane Phillip, and apologised for any distress caused to the contractor and his family.
SPORTT’s work with SCG is believed to have been behind last year’s forensic audit, which led to the dismissal of Montserin, Blake and another six employees. The details of the audit were neither made public nor shared with the dismissed workers.
(Imran Jan retraction)
I wish to retract statements that I endorsed and further assisted to be published against Mr Phillip Whiteman, Director of the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (SPORTT). In several media publications, excerpts of a letter dated the 30th October 2017 to the Board of SPORTT from Mr Richard McFarlane, former Director of SPORTT were published.
I publicly endorsed the contents of the said letter as well as assisted in its creation and dissemination together with Mr Richard McFarlane, other personnel within SPORTT and others outside of SPORTT.
The said letter made implications as to Mr Phillip Whiteman’s failure to declare to the Board of Directors of SPORTT his Directorship of Ashana Civil Mechanical Contractors Limited (Ashana) and more particularly its sub-contractual agreement with SCG International (Caribbean) Limited. The said letter made implications as to discussions held by the Board of Directors of SPORTT regarding SCG International (Caribbean) Limited in that Mr Whiteman due to his perceived interest may have influenced these discussions to his benefit.
I wish to categorically retract all such statements and further state that this was not in fact the case. Mr. Whiteman did in fact disclose upon his appointment as Director to the Board of Directors of SPORTT his Directorship with Ashana and that Ashana had a sub-contractual agreement with SCG International (Caribbean) Limited.
All Board members of SPORTT were made fully aware of this inclusive of myself as a former Director of SPORTT and Mr McFarlane.
Furthermore, the discussions with respect to SCG International (Caribbean) Limited had no bearing on Ashana nor did it derive any benefit to Ashana or Mr Whiteman in his personal capacity.
The letter dated the 30th October 2017 was an attempt to discredit Mr Whiteman for which I wish to publicly apologise. I hereby extend my regrets and apologies to Mr Phillip Whiteman and his family for any embarrassment, distress and upset I have caused due to this publication.