Wednesday 7th June, 2006


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Give Latin dance a try

The Latin dance craze hit Trinidad just over ten years ago and continues to be very popular today at numerous nightclubs and bars throughout the country.

Since then, many additional entertainment areas have added Latin nights to their schedules, which are frequented by scores of enthusiastic Latin dance fans.

To satisfy the demand for such an exciting, entertaining and enjoyable pastime, several dance schools and groups have opened their doors and classes are now widely available.

If you are a fan of Latin music and dance you may already be familiar with some of these locales, as well as the opportunities for expanding your talents in this art form. For those of you who may want to try your hand at this fun, energetic diversion, we’ve put together a brief listing of some of the local Latin dance hot spots.

Latin dance fans in the north-west have quite a few choices regarding when and where classes are offered, as well as a selection of different types and styles of dance.

The nightclub Sabor Latino in Maraval is one of the more popular night entertainment sites for Latin dancing. Classes are offered Tuesdays and Thursdays and there is no fee for simply watching the students go through their paces.

Even without a dance partner one is certain to find many willing volunteers. Everyone comes together to learn from each other. That’s what makes Latin dancing so much fun.

Sabor attracts a wide age group so that Latin dance lovers of all ages fit right in.

Tasca Latina is another Port-of-Spain pub providing Latin classes—on Saturday nights. Latin music is played for most of the night and the dancing goes on until the early hours of the morning.

Hilton Trinidad is not to be left out of the Latin dance mix. Classes are on a Tuesday evening and true dance enthusiasts share their passion for salsa, meringue and cha cha cha.

If one considers midnight too early to be making one’s way home, the Mas Camp Pub has a session that goes on until the wee hours of the morning. The Woodbrook pub hosts classes on a Tuesday evening.

There are also a few locations that host Latin nights but do not provide classes. Arthurs in St James is one such site. On most Friday nights, patrons are treated to international standard performances by a Latin jazz band whose members comprise talented local and Venezuelan musicians.

It really is a squeeze down at the Squeeze pub in Woodbrook. Occasionally, there are performances by live bands but Latin music is played throughout the night.

The nightclub 51 Degrees also hosts a Latin night every second Wednesday of the month.

Not only is Latin dancing enjoyable to watch, but when one participates, it is a great form of cardio vascular exercise. If you can move to soca then learning the merengue, salsa and cha cha cha may come naturally.

Not knowing how to Latin dance is not an excuse. Get together some friends, join a Latin dance class and open up your world. You can all learn and laugh together and maybe even make new friends in the process.

So why not get up and dance your way to a new pastime which is not only enjoyable, but safe, and brings with it a whole host of health benefits.

See you on the dance floor!

For more information about the Spanish As the First Foreign Language (SAFFL) initiative, please contact the Secretariat for the

Implementation of Spanish (a division of the Ministry of Trade and Industry) at 624-8329/627–9513 or fax us at 623-0365

Facts about the interchange

By Colm Imbert

Minister of Works and Transport

IN a recent Guardian article it was reported that the construction of the interchange had been delayed for a few months because local contractors did not have the capacity to construct the project, while several foreign contractors thought that the project was too small for them to mobilise in Trinidad.

This article has resulted in an editorial in the Guardian which has drawn erroneous conclusions, and has also resulted in an appearance on television by the president of the Contractors’ Association who sought to defend local contractors, although they were not under any attack.

There has also been other uninformed and erroneous commentary with respect to the design of the structure.

The president of the Contractors’ Association, Mikey Joseph, has claimed that local contractors can do the job if they are given sufficient time to tender, and has given the impression that the Government is somehow at fault.

The reality is, however, that, in the quest to ensure maximum participation by local contractors, the invitation for submission of applications for pre-qualification for the project was published in the daily newspaper in November, 2005, almost eight months ago, and the deadline for submission of applications has been extended twice since then.

Despite being given all of this time to make the necessary arrangements, however, local contractors have not expressed any interest in the project.

On Monday night on television, Mr Joseph explained that contractors in T&T had so much work that they were picking and choosing projects, and selecting the easiest and most profitable projects, hence the reason why they did not express interest in the interchange, which they perceive to be a difficult project.

Mr Joseph went further to say that the interchange project would be done in the full view of the public, and, therefore, the performance of the contractor would be subjected to daily scrutiny by the local population, which was another reason why local contractors were shying away from the project, since they did not want to be judged if they did not perform adequately.

Mr Joseph also confirmed that local contractors could not do the project on their own, but would require foreign assistance. The explanations that he made on television, however, are very different to the statements attributed to him in the Guardian yesterday.

The editorial in the Guardian has erroneously assumed that the design of the interchange has been changed and that the material for the elevated bridge structure has been changed (presumably from concrete to steel) and further, that the Ministry of Works and Transport should have known that the project could not have been done using local expertise.

All of these assertions are incorrect, however. In the first place, the design of the elevated structure has not changed and further, the choice of steel for the bridge structure has been in the public domain for years.

It should be noted that the previous design of the interchange under the former administration also involved a sophisticated steel arch bridge structure for the west to south movement and at that time it was public knowledge that the arch structure was to be built by a specialist French contractor who was said to be associated with the construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Further, the steel bridge structure that is to be built now is not any more complex than the previous steel arch structure, and it is completely misleading and erroneous for anybody to assert otherwise.

Engineer Aaron Busch, an experienced structural engineer, who was on CNC3 television on Monday night, also confirmed that steel was the most appropriate choice of material for the bridge structure, and would save time and cost.

In addition, contrary to the assumptions which informed the editorial, it was always known that local contractors did not have the ability to construct the elevated bridge structure for the interchange without foreign assistance. As a result the Ministry of Works and Transport has sought over the last months to encourage local contractors to enter into joint ventures with foreign contractors so that there would be a transfer of technology leading to development of local expertise in sophisticated steel bridge construction.

The local contractors, however, have made it clear, as confirmed by Mr Joseph on television, that they prefer at this time to do simple projects because there is less risk and greater opportunity for profit.

On the flip side, a number of foreign contractors have indicated that the project is too small to justify the expense of mobilisation in Trinidad. There are, however, several foreign contractors who have expressed interest in the project, and in the interest of transparency, all the Ministry of Works and Transport is doing is seeking to ensure that a sufficient number of contractors tender for the project so that the process is competitive and we get the best value for money.

It is unfortunate that a routine update of the progress of the interchange project, which was accurately reported in the Guardian, has been misconstrued to the extent that all sorts of unfounded and inaccurate conclusions have been drawn.

The truth is that that local contractors are unwilling to participate in a joint venture with a foreign contractor to undertake the interchange project because they have enough work in Trinidad to keep them busy. This is not a controversial matter and is simply a statement of reality.

Further, the worldwide construction boom has created enough opportunities for foreign contractors to allow them to also pick and choose their projects. As an example, an experienced contractor from Denmark had previously expressed strong interest in the interchange project in 2005 but has now indicated that they have recently won a number of large construction contracts in Jamaica, and are now too busy to undertake the project.

Notwithstanding this, the interchange project is moving ahead with those contractors who have indicated their willingness to participate in the project, and barring a catastrophe, construction of the elevated bridge structure will commence in 2006.

There is absolutely no need therefore for the local construction industry to be on the defensive and the Ministry of Works and Transport will continue to encourage local contractors to upgrade their capacity to undertake sophisticated construction projects.

Finally, in order to avoid any doubt, and to clear up any misunderstanding, I wish to confirm that tenders for the elevated bridge structure on the interchange project are expected to be invited in June, and we do expect to receive serious bids from experienced international contractors.





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