Office accommodations a priority

The new government has stated, and with good cause, that bringing public-education infrastructure up to an adequate level is a priority on its agenda.

Recent events have shown the country has another need, in some ways more urgent than education.

Like education, government-office accommodations were bad before Hurricane Ivan, but have become critical since.

The already deteriorating Tower Building, one of government’s main office accommodation sites, was made completely unusable by Ivan.

Many other government offices had to find new locations because of damage caused by Ivan.

Now, there are problems with the Glass House.

The Governor and his staff moved out of the building last week because of a report from a health and safety inspector from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Basically, the inspector’s worry is that people on the upper floors could become trapped in the building if a fire were to break out on the ground floor.

If the building is not safe for the Governor, civil servants working at the Glass House wonder how it could be safe for them.

That problem is bad enough, but there may be more wrong with the Glass House than just a 30-year-old fire situation that many governors have been told about in the past.

What could be wrong with the Glass House is that it is a 30-year-old building that isn’t aging gracefully.

On Thursday morning, in the midst of severe rains caused by Tropical Storm Arlene, the Permanent Secretary responsible for government buildings ordered the Glass House closed for the remainder of the day.

Water had begun leaking in from the roof and through some of the windows.

The Cabinet was to discuss remedial ways of addressing the fire egress issue this past Tuesday.

Next Tuesday they might have to discuss remedial ways of keeping water out of Glass House offices when it rains.

What must be discussed – and decided – in the near future is when to build the new office accommodations the government urgently needs.

The seat of government power is the Glass House, and this country’s authority flows from there.

Having a safe place for our leaders to work is at least as important as our education infrastructure.

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