Construction workers start getting vaccines

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People line up at the National Racquet Centre in Tacarigua to get vaccinated on Tuesday. – Sureash Cholai

Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan said workers within the ministry as well stakeholders in the construction sector began receiving vaccines on Monday.

In an interview with Newsday on Tuesday, Sinanan said the ministry had been allocated vaccines by the government to vaccinate its workers.

He said once the ministry had given vaccines to its workers, it reached out to its associates, including the port and airport authorities, and the maxi and taxi associations for names of workers to be vaccinated.

“It doesn’t make sense to vaccinate our people alone and not people working on jobsites,” he said.

“We want to reopen our construction as soon as possible.”

Sinanan said the goal is to get as many people as possible, working on ministry sites, vaccinated.

The representative from the ministry coordinating the initiative, who requested anonymity, said the ministry reached out to its major contractors to have their workers vaccinated also.

He said vaccines were allocated to roughly 2,300 workers within the ministry and 900 names from various stakeholders, including small, medium, and large contractors were also submitted.

Newsday spoke briefly with Seereeram Brothers Ltd worker Akeil Woodley at the National Racquet Centre in Tacarigua on Tuesday. Woodley had just received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

He said he did not want to take the vaccine initially, and many of his coworkers felt the same, but the company arranged for them to be vaccinated.

“I didn’t really want to take it but (I came) because we want to go back out to work and keep employment.”

Woodley said he took the vaccine to limit the risk of major illness.

“It’s not stopping you from getting it or spreading it, but you are the one to benefit.”

On Sunday, the TT Contractors Association (TTCA) said it would be working with the Ministry of Health on another initiative to vaccinate workers in the construction sector, including hardware workers. This begins on Saturday.

In a phone interview with Newsday on Tuesday, president of the TTCA Glen Mahabirsingh said the association welcomes the inclusion of hardware workers as they are critical to the construction industry. He said the association has already received over 500 e-mails from construction sector workers to be vaccinated.

Group executive chairman of the Coosal group of companies Sieunarine Coosal said the group is doing everything it can to encourage workers to take the vaccine.

He said getting vaccinated was the only way to return to a productive industry.

“The construction industry generates employment for thousands of people.

“Suppliers also rely on the construction industry; hardware stores, lubricants, tyres, batteries, the whole supply chain. Once the construction industry picks up, you will see a creation of employment.

“We would like to get back to normal as soon as possible.”

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