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News day / He also slammed as “racial dotishness”, those who raised their voices in opposition to calls by retired West Indies and TT batting star Brian Lara to have one of the stands in the Academy named in honour of his (Lara) personal friend, India’s retired batting icon Sachin Tendulkar.

Speaking at the re-commissioning of the Pt Fortin Highway yesterday, Rowley thanked everyone who attended the long-awaited opening of the academy, praising them for not being “ridiculous” and “foolish”, as the protestors who he claimed, tried to sabotage that opening by staging their protest along the Solomon Hochoy Highway outside the Children’s Hospital.

“Last week we opened the Brian Lara Stadium and Academy and there were persons who took it upon themselves to do everything possible to ensure that event was a failure,” said Rowley at the re-commissioning of the highway project which was abandoned after Brazilian construction company OAS Construtora went bankrupt in 2015.

“But today I want to congratulate all who left their homes and came to the Brian Lara Academy to demonstrate that we are not all foolish in Trinidad and Tobago!” Rowley said the protestors claimed they blocked the highway to move government into paying more attention to the opening of the Children’s Hospital.

He then criticised those who were opposed to naming one of the stands at the stadium’s Academy after Sachin Tendulkar. He said the idea for the naming did not come from government but from Lara, as a means for encouraging “sports tourism”.

“And when Brian Lara suggested that he wanted to use Sachin Tendulkar’s name on that academy, it was not because as – our ridiculous friends say in the Opposition – that we wanted to use Tendulkar’s name to sanitise any project. But Brian Lara wanted to open to the world an academy where Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar would have been the show piece in world cricket.” Tendulkar’s name would have exposed Trinidad and Tobago to the “largest cricket market in the world in India,” Rowley said. “But in TT that matters not, all that mattered was racial dotishness because some people in this country cannot avoid including race in their discussion in every single thing that they do.” Rowley said the reason given for the stalling of the project was that it would have cost as much as $250M to complete, making it feasible to shut down.

However, the government completed the project with a little less than $90M. “And Gary Sobers told me on Friday night it is one of the best stadia in the region.” Rowley then turned his attention to the Children’s Hospital. He criticised former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for opening that Hospital one year before it was actually completed. In answer to widespread calls for the hospital to be opened, Rowley said several interested parties involved in, “that kind of business”, were invited to submit proposals on how the hospital could service locals and foreigners, while also being an income earner.

“In the next few days,” Rowley said, “I am advised by the Minister of Planning and Development that the team we put together to evaluate the proposals would submit its report. That report would come to Parliament and if we get a proposal that is satisfactory, in the next few weeks we will tell you exactly what Cabinet has decided will happen with that hospital.”

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