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Monday 20 August 2018
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Tobago

Residents want dialogue, information on airport project

Residents and property owners of Bon Accord/Crown Point who have been told by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) /Airport Authority (AATT) that their lands are needed to build a new terminal building for the ANR Robinson International airport, want further dialogue, and information, on the project.

The residents have formed a support group to engage in discussions and negotiations, declaring that not enough information is being shared with them.

Rhonda Hackett, one of the group’s members, in a telephone interview last Thursday, said the idea is to seek the interest of the community.

“A lot of the people were caught off guard with the abrupt notice given…I think that very little consideration was given to the social impact of such abrupt notice on the lives of the individuals who live in and around the area,” Hackett said.

“Some persons were traumatised in one way or another from the shock of the news. Not being familiar with the whole process of an acquisition; what you need to do, what needs to get done, all those details…

“While you may be on a platform speaking out to a mass of people, you don’t know how persons would have been receiving the information individually and how much they understand. How the persons with the specific and individual needs would be treated with, all those things were left hanging and while it is you may have thrown out certain expectations, it is also important to hear from the people themselves if you wish to seek their best interest as best as you possibly can,” she said.

On May 14, residents were invited to what was termed a public consultation on plans to build a new terminal for the airport at the Rovanel’s Conference Centre on Store Bay Local Road.

Called by the THA and AATT, residents were then informed that Government was looking at compulsory acquisition of their lands for the terminal building. The residents were told some 84 acres of land was to be acquired, and 120 residents were subsequently identified as being affected.

Hackett said residents were disenchanted with the information given so far.

“A lot of the people are not happy in terms of the idea of acquisition and based on what was shared at the meeting about relocation and compensation, there is not a clear indication of the plans been fleshed out,” she said.

“The Government could have made a better presentation by also providing a support unit to maybe provide counselling to these persons, health related support and even financial advice and more one-on-one information because some people do not fully understand what the process really involves,” she said.

Hackett also said it was the hope that the authorities would reconsider the December timelines given for the start of the project, and that residents were fully compensated before they leave the area.

“We would like to meet with the THA to be a part of the discussions that they are involved in on the matter, whilst also asking for them to reconsider the start date of the project as December 2018, because that time isn’t reasonable.

“There is no place prepared, there are no homes available, logistics have not been worked out,” she said.

Hackett said correspondence was sent to the THA Chief Administrator Raye Sandy and that her information was that

the THA was unwilling to meet with residents, that information was already shared with them.

Called for comment on Thursday, Sandy said the Assembly was putting together a team which includes valuators and surveyors among other technocrats to meet individually with the residents.

Asked about reports that the Assembly was unwilling to meet with the affected residents, Sandy said he would be more than willing to do so should they request this.

Asked about building plans and associated drawings for the terminal being made public, Sandy said AATT was the one to provide such information as the THA’s role was just to acquire the lands.

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