FORMER works minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan said property acquisitions for the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin had been undertaken by the National Infrastructure Development Company Limited (NIDCO) which had retained professional consultants and valuators for the project.
He was commenting on a statement by Works Minister Rohan Sinanan who, at a sod turning ceremony for the final three packages of the project last week, said while government had received $345 million in claims, some 50 per cent of the properties had not been acquired.He said the 2010 land acquisition budget was $400 million, but by 2011 had “jumped” to $800 million.“We have already paid out a little over $500 million, we have 345 million dollars in claims and we have not acquire 50 per cent of the properties as yet.”
Sinanan said over 100 properties which had been paid for by NIDCO were no longer required after the realignment of the highway.But Rambachan said NIDCO had been dealing with the acquisitions from the project’s beginning and had all of the relevant data.“I came into this project about 2013. NIDCO is the one who had been dealing with the matter of acquisitions through private treaty arrangements, so NIDCO would have hired professional consultants and valuators to deal with the people.”
“Mr Sinanan still has to present to the public, evidence of the claim of what he is making, that all of these properties were acquired to be used. I’m waiting to see the evidence about what he is talking about, but all of the data is there at NIDCO.”
Asked whether the project could be completed by 2020, he said between 30-40 per cent of the groundwork had been done during his tenure, and he did not foresee any obstacles as there were competent local contractors who could complete the project.