The Judiciary has confirmed that historic San Fernando Magistrates Court building which was closed almost two years ago for “roof repairs” will be demolished.
The move came as a shock to the Assembly of Southern Lawyers (ASL) who will be seeking a meeting with the Judiciary.
Plans to demolish the building was disclosed by the Judiciary following a query from Guardian Media about the status of the old magistrates’ court.
An email from Court Protocol & Information Manager Carl Francis, stated “The assessment of the building after the earthquake showed that the building had sustained significant damage. The Judiciary has asked the Ministry of Works to arrange to have the building demolished. A site has been identified for a new magistrates’ court building to be constructed and plans are in train and underway.”
Since its closure, the 100-year-old building has deteriorated significantly, with parts of the guttering and ceiling falling off. The sidewalk in front of the court along Harris Street has been cordoned off with caution tape.
However, security officers from the National Maintenance Training and Security Company Ltd are still stationed at the building. The building known as the old court was “temporarily” closed in September 2017 and the five courts were relocated to the Madinah Building and the San Fernando High Court, for a month to facilitate urgent ceiling repairs and asbestos cleaning.
The Judiciary then extended the closure to November 13, 2017, but noted that even after the roof repairs are completed minor works will still be done inside the building.
The five courts from the old court have since been relocated to the High Court on the shift system which remains in effect. Works started on the building, but then stopped.
Concerned by complaints by members of the public that the building was breeding mosquitoes and was a hazard, San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello had considered taking legal action against the Judiciary to force its hand to address the situation.
Last week Regrello said the last update he received was that they were awaiting the release of funds to send out the tenders.
Saying it was an injustice to the people of San Fernando, the mayor said, “The building is falling apart now and we still waiting. Of course, I know they will understand the nature of the exercise and the importance of getting it addressed.”
- by Sascha Wilson