UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was losing sleep over renovations at United Nations headquarters and told world leaders on Tuesday to be prepared to speak in a makeshift hall next year.
Ban, who had lived at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for about 11 months while his official residence was refurbished, said he and his wife moved just two weeks ago to Sutton Place, an elegant street on Manhattan’s east side.
“Now my next mission is to renovate all of this U.N. building, including the General Assembly hall,” he said during a toast at the start of a dinner for world leaders.
Ban said he had a plan to shorten the projected seven years for the renovation to perhaps four or five years, and work was to begin next year.
“By the time you attend the General Assembly next year, you may have to deliver your speech at a temporary General Assembly hall which we are now going to build,” Ban said.
“This may cause some inconvenience, disruptions, but I hope you will bear with that,” he said.
“Believe me I am already having sleepless nights about the logistics of this exercise,” he said. “But it is necessary.”
The U.N. Capital Master Plan has been in the pipeline since 1995 but work has not started and the project is not expected to be completed until 2014.
The renovations, costing some $1.88 billion, are to modernize the famous glass skyscraper overlooking Manhattan’s East River, where asbestos seeps through the walls and water leaks into the General Assembly chamber were heads of state and government speak.