(by Nazima Raghubir)
The Public Building will be temporarily closed and staff relocated as plans are underway to remove asbestos from the western wing of the building.
The asbestos was found while repairs were being done to the building recently. The Environmental Protection Agency was called in and tests on the materials found confirmed that it was indeed asbestos. The EPA has since advised that the building be closed and all staff be relocated for the prompt removal of the hazardous material.
Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Issacs said that the removal of the asbestos will be done during the National Assembly’s recess which starts on the 10th August and would last for two months.
“The EPA has advised that all the staff would have to be removed. We have identified the Public Procurement Commission Building which can accommodate about half the amount of staff, some would be sent on leave, since this is during the parliamentary recess and some would be working from home,” the Clerk said.
The sittings of the National Assembly are currently held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre in keeping with the COVID-19 public health measures that require physical distancing. The Clerk said work will continue as the phone lines would be transferred to the new temporary location and other arrangements are being made.
A notice to the public will be issued he said. This is not the first time asbestos was removed from Public Buildings. In 2002 the entire Chamber in the Eastern Wing was the building had to be replaced when asbestos was also found. The sittings of the National Assembly were then held at the Ocean View Convention Centre.