Yet to give a date for signing of a contract for the to build a Sandals resort in Tobago, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Sunday reiterated that the resort would not be built on No Man’s Land and that it would contain a golf course.
He also spoke of plans to build a new terminal building for the ANR Robinson International airport, and a marina at Canoe Bay.
Rowley, delivering the feature address at the People’s National Movement (PNM) Tobago Council’s third convention at the conference room of the Division of Infrastructure at Shaw Park, said:
“That project (Sandals) will take place on Buccoo Estate. Those of you who know Buccoo Estate, it runs from Coral Gardens all the way down to the lagoon.
“You keep on hearing No Man’s Land, No Man’s Land. No Man’s Land sounds like a nice place, but half of them don’t have a clue where No Man’s Land is. Nobody in their right mind would think that any hotel would be built on No Man’s Land.”
He noted a golf course would be built on the Sandals property.
“Apparently to play golf is a sin and I am accused of playing golf. Well I rather be accused of playing golf than to be drunk all over the place.
“I encourage young people to play golf, it is a beautiful sport. We have two golf courses in Tobago, they’re not very well kept but the whole idea is if we can get two or more, so three golf courses in Tobago of high quality, then when you invite a tourist to come to Tobago, one of the things that is attractive and would be attracting them is the fact that you have good golf courses, so we’re building another one,” he said.
At the August 23 ‘Conversations with the Prime Minister’ event held at the Scarborough Library, Rowley had said Government was in the process of “laying the ground work… We are going to have public consultations in Tobago at some time and we would negotiate the arrangements with Sandals as we go forward. Those negotiations, meaning the preparation of a contract document would take place in the next coming weeks.”
On September 12, in an interview with Newsday Tobago, former head of the Tobago Chamber of Commerce, Demi-John Cruickshank, calling for more action and less talk by the Tobago House of Assembly and central government in kickstarting Tobago’s economy, had noted Government’s failure, after three years in office, to deliver on projects promised for Tobago, including the sandals resort.
“They need to accelerate the sod-turning of the Sandals project to give some confidence to the people. From what we were told, they were looking at a two-year window to build and open. The government has two years again in office, what we need is for the government to say, ‘listen we are ready to sign these things, we have gone through the contract.’ We need to stop the talking and start the action.
“We (economy) are down significantly in Tobago… the promise of the new airport terminal, the promise of the Sandal project, the promise of all these projects by the central government, and by extension the Tobago House of Assembly, have not borne any fruit as yet,” complained Cruickshank.
On Sunday, Rowley also spoke about the new terminal building for the ANR Robinson International Airport.
“The vision is to have a proper airport terminal building to receive more planes under better conditions…and because we have taken that decision in this period of difficulty, where we don’t have the money, we find the mechanism to do it which is the Public Private Partnership.
“That work has advanced and in the next few weeks, three or four weeks or thereabout as I am told by the Ministry of Finance, the invitation to financers, builders and designers would come out to put a proposal out to … the Ministry of Finance because it is a central government project in collaboration with the Tobago House of Assembly to design, finance and build a terminal building in Tobago.
“Meaning, we can get it done now, get it built now, we pay for it in sectional payments over a period of time and at the end of that period, it comes to the state for $1 or something like that. So, we get it done even though we don’t have the money up front, using the Public Private Partnership,” he said.
The PM also spoke about Tobago needing a marina.
“When you have a lot of vessels coming here, there is nowhere to even fuel a vessel here in Tobago. I used to take part in deep fishing here in Tobago and we used to get people coming in from Martinique, from Barbados, from Grenada, all about and when they come here, you had to carry the fuel to them in tanks on the boats at night. Ridiculous.
“We’ve moved from talk to action. The government has put out a proposal request. I understand that we’ve got two responses, one international, one local. The government has put a team in place to evaluate it and I understand within a couple weeks, no more than two weeks, we would get a report from them.
“The government will tell you is either we have somebody, or we don’t who is interesting in using the Private Public Partnership approach to build a large marina at Canoe Bay, which would allow us to market Tobago as the place to store your vessels in the Caribbean in the hurricane season,” he said.