by Linda Straker
- New Parliament building officially opened
- 25 months to complete and created jobs for 200 persons at a cost of US$12.2 million
- Parliamentary chamber designed in the shape of a nutmeg pod
Amidst intermittent showers, Grenada’s new Parliament building was officially opened in a ceremony attended by representatives of funding governments, regional leaders, members of parliament, former members of parliament and the general public.
York House, the old Parliament building located on Church Street overlooking the city of St George’s was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Since then, the island’s parliamentary business was taken care of by converting the Grenada Trade Centre to a temporary parliament chamber on the days of parliamentary sessions. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ivan one sitting was held at the St George’s University.
“The new Parliament building is a symbol of the Grenadian people civic pride and political heritage and the UAE is honoured to have contributed to its construction,” said Majid Al Suwaide, Consul General, United Arabs Emirates (UAE). He said that today’s ceremony signified the close working relationship between the UAE and Grenada. The UAE provided US$4.5 million to assist with the construction.
Speaking on behalf of the United Mexican States whose government provided US$5 million towards the construction, Ambassador Oscar Esparaja Vargas said that his government was pleased to be associated with reinstating the building and described it as ‘the flagship” project of bilateral cooperation between both countries. “Mexico is committed to accompanying Grenada in its many development efforts as we have proven through the many bilateral cooperation,” he said.
Expressing heartfelt appreciation to the governments who contributed towards the realisation of the project, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said that without their direct help, the structure would not have been a reality. “They were true friends in words, and resolute in deed. They honoured their commitment to assist Grenada, and they did so against the backdrop of their own needs. They did so when others, with dated ties, did not, or were unable to, for different reasons. That demonstration of friendship is one we will cherish, forever,” he said.
Thanking regional and international friendly governments the Prime Minister said that their moral support of Grenada over the years must be recognised. “They know the importance of state buildings in our part of the hemisphere. They know what this means for the consolidation of our democracy and our independence, and they have never failed to lend their voices in advocating for the rebuilding of this important symbolic institution,” he said.
Among the regional leaders attending were: Prime Minister Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago, Prime Minister Gonsalves of Saint Vincent, Prime Minister Chastanet of Saint Lucia, and the Secretary-General of Caricom, Ambassador La Rocque.
Costing US$12.2 million according to Infrastructure Minister Gregory Bowen, it took 25 months to complete and created jobs for 200 persons during peak construction. “This will be our new home, a landmark in many ways,” Bowen said.
The Parliamentary chamber is designed in the shape of a nutmeg pod with public sitting for 200 persons.
The opening ceremony was held on the outside of the building and was immediately proceeded by a joint special sitting of both the lower and upper houses of Parliament. The main item on the agenda was a resolution proclaiming the use of the building to discuss parliamentary matters.