Proper consultation and advance notice smust be given to residents of Canaan/Bon Accord before telling them that their lands and property would be subject to compulsory acquisition by Government for a $500 million new airport terminal for the ANR Robinson International Airport in Crown Point.
So said attorney Martin George, who told Newsday Tobago on Saturday that he hoped residents would be given more and credible information on the process of acquiring lands for the terminal.
“We have to bear all these things in mind when you think of it because you are displacing somebody from their house, their home, the place that they hold dear. It is not something that you approach in a vicious manner, you ought to have proper consultation, proper advance notice and I certainly cannot see, all things been equal, that six months is sufficient time to engage in that process,” George said.
“I am deeply disturbed by the way this has unfolded, I am hoping that it would get better and more credible information coming out from the authorities as to how they plan to manage this process. In the circumstances, I can empathise with the general public who are alarmed and confused and concerned at this sudden announcement which seeks to alienates them from their property,” he added.
George contended that there was a lack of planning in the process.
“It does appear that there is an undue amount of haste and a certain lack of proper planning in the way this is been approached and we have to bear in mind also that the history of compulsory acquisition in Trinidad and Tobago has shown that many times there are persons who have been displaced from their property, their lands have been taken and no proper compensation have been paid even though they have been promised routinely by the Government that they would be,” he said.
George said the Compulsory Acquisition Act does allow Government can take people’s property for a public purpose, the approach must be done in a humane and sensitive manner.
“You must be aware that you are dealing with human beings and you are dealing with their life possessions and places that they hold dear and cherish to their hearts,” he said.
George noted a three-stage procedure for compulsory acquisition of land by the State:
Publication of the intended acquisition by the State of particular lands in the Gazette as well as notification to persons having some interest in the land; gaining access or possession of the land to commence work through an Order from the President authorising the Commissioner to take possession and apply the land for its intended use (without the formal vesting in land by the State); and formal acquisition of land - the President by Order will declare that the land is required for public purposes.
George added that the Act also deals with compensation for displaced landowners and occupiers, emergency acquisition and acquisition by other authorities.