One hundred and twenty residents/landowners would be affected as Government looks to compulsory acquisition of 84 acres of land in the Canaan/Bon Accord area to build a new $500 million terminal for the ANR Robinson International Airport.
The land for the terminal has already been identified, and on Monday, the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and the Airports Authority oheld a public consultation to tell the residents/landowners so, and that construction of the terminal was slated to begin in December.
At the consultation at the Rovanel’s Resort on the Store Bay Local Road, close to the lands earmarked for the new terminal, residents were not given much more information but told to register for private consultations taking place during this week in four categories - land only, residential only, commercial and farming and residential and commercial.
THA Chief Administrator, Raye Sandy, addressing the gathered residents/landowners, said a modern airport that can be expanded in the future, was to be constructed.
“The current airport which we have right now does not meet the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) regulations and we therefore cannot continue with that arrangement if we want to do more business in the future.
“For the purposes of this exercise, we recognise that those persons whose land are to be acquired, and in a general sense, we are talking about lands that starts south of the Store Bay Local Road between Gaskin Bay Road on the east and Store Bay Feeder Road on the west, that is the parcel of land that is earmarked for acquisition for the construction of this new airport,” Sandy said.
He told the residents/landowners the exercise was compulsory acquisition and that construction of the new terminal was expected to begin in December.
“Compulsory acquisition… nobody likes that, but the state is saying to you, we are taking your land for a public purpose and you would be compensated.
“The plan of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is to begin construction of that terminal building in December of 2018, so you understand we don’t have a lot of time. We have to deal with the reality of if I live there now I would not be living there in the foreseeable future, but of course we have to compensate you adequately and compensation can take many forms.
“It is not the desire of the THA to disenfranchise anyone, we would ensure that persons are adequately compensated for the properties that they now own,” he said.
He did not give details of any compensation package or process.
Sandy said the terminal was only step one to the airport project, and there were more plans for the area.
“The plan is also to build a highway from Shirvan junction, where Milshirv building is now, to the new airport terminal. So, if you are coming from east Tobago, you come straight down the highway into the airport terminal.
“A road will be constructed from Shirvan through lands already owned by the THA, that is Friendship Estate, down through to join up with Store Bay Local Road, which will be widened to match the area. So, it is likely that some of you who live along Store Bay Local Road may have to face some acquisition in the future.
“So when we have completed the designs for the roads, we are going to identify those persons who lands will be acquired and those persons we would have some kind of conversation with in terms of compensation,” he said.
Airport Master Planning Consultant, Patrick Drakes, in a power point presentation on the project, showed a sketch of the area earmarked for acquisition. Stating that airports have signed on to the ICAO convention, which guides the regulations, standards and best practices, Drakes said:
“This airport was existing before the ICAO became existent, so what we have is a situation where we are been asked to comply even though it was built before. If we need to have any sort of growth expansion especially in the area of attracting international passengers, we must have an airport that is compliant,” he claimed, adding that the mission here is how do we become compliant within this defined space yet satisfy all the requirements.”