Deputy Chairman of the Airport Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT), Lyle Alexander, says that a plan for construction of a new terminal building for the ANR Robinson International Airport in Crown Point would be revealed to the public in “due course.”
Asked about whether a plan for the terminal project has been made available to the public, Alexander told Newsday Tobago on Saturday:
“Revealed to the public… no. That has not yet been done but there is a plan that will be revealed in due course. The draft plan takes into consideration the acquisition of the properties around that is necessary, but the final plan will be revealed in due course.”
Alexander said the first phase of the project - acquisition of the lands - was ongoing and that other steps would be identified upon completion of the acquisition process.
“There is a committee comprising the THA (Tobago House of Assembly) and the Airports Authority that is liaising to make this project happen. At the moment, the legal process is being followed to get the necessary land acquisition… basically that is the process that is ongoing at the moment. At the end of that, the other announcements for the next steps will be detailed,” he said.
On May 14, the THA held a public meeting at the Rovanel’s Resort and Conference Centre on Store Bay Local Road at which residents of the Bon Accord/Crown Point areas were for the first time informed that Government was looking to compulsory acquisition of some 84 acres of land to build a terminal building.
During the meeting, a presentation was made by Project Consultant Patrick Drakes, showing the demarcation of the desired parcel of land spanning an area south of the Store Bay Local Road between Gaskin Bay Road on the east and Store Bay Feeder Road on the west. that has been earmarked for acquisition. Some 120 residents have been identified as property owners who would be affected in the land acquisition process.
Speaking at last Monday’s opening of the Lambeau River Bridge, THA Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles said an airport master plan was commissioned and will be adhered to. He said this plan is designed to span over the next 30, 40 or 50 years, rather than what he said were ad hoc arrangements of past governments.
Charles did not say if or when this plan would be made public.
However, during a free legal clinic last Monday, hosted by the THA Minority Council, attorney Kelvin Ramkissoon told residents in the affected area that under the land laws of Trinidad and Tobago, Government has a right to acquire lands for public purposes, but this must be balanced against the rights of citizens.
Describing the compulsory acquisition process as a big stick approach, Ramkissoon said there was a more humane, compassionate way to deal with acquiring the lands – that is by private purchase or private treaty, and that the law provides for this under the Land Acquisition Act.
Ramkissoon also said:
“When the lands have been identified, the Government has to publish in the daily newspaper or the publication known as the Gazette, which is the Government’s newspaper where the information such as acts of Parliament are published, and the Government has to serve what is called a Section 3 notice… that authorises the Commissioner of State Lands and State agents to come into the land to conduct certain tests.
“You can’t really do anything about it, but you must know what is going on. You must know whether the lands are required, what compensation am I entitled to.”
Ramkissoon cited the case of acquisition of private lands for construction of the Point Fortin Highway in Trinidad, saying that a similar process must be applied for Tobago.
He said that months before, parcels of lands for resettlement to house residents in Claxton Bay and in other parts of Trinidad were identified and these sites included infrastructure, roads, fire hydrants, water and electricity.