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Friday 23 August 2019
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Tobago homeowners call for meeting on airport terminal

RESIDENTS of Canaan/Bon Accord and environs say they remain in a limbo and unease as there has been no official information on how badly they will be affected by the construction of the new ANR Robinson International Airport terminal and associated works, scheduled to begin in November.

Speaking on behalf of the residents on Friday, Rhonda Hackett once again appealed to members of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and the National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO) to meet with the residents collectively to discuss the way forward.

A meeting was previously scheduled by NIDCO for May 1, however it was cancelled.

Hackett said, residents were subsequently informed that meetings would be arranged with the residents on a one-on-one basis, something that they are totally against. However, if people choose to attend these meetings, Hackett advised them to seek legal representation.

“You need those minds to represent you to ensure you get the best out of this situation. That is the whole rationale behind it. You with your layman self going to them (THA and NIDCO) is like a chicken going to a lion – you will be eaten alive.”

Residents have been told that they must be evacuated by November.

“The law can do so much, but agitation at a time like this is critical if we are to get the level of progress that we need. Time is ticking, it is moving rapidly around the corner into 2020.

“It is important that we act to ensure that their actions are within our best interest and that many of these misconceptions that exist out there, need to be cleared up.”

Hackett added, “We are in support of having a new airport terminal building in Tobago. We have seen a beautiful demo… and I would like to step into an airport terminal like that in Tobago. But I would also like to know when I have neighbours and friends visiting, they are able to step into my nice home that I am comfortable with simultaneously.”

At this time, they are in the process of planning another protest, this time through the streets of Scarborough to highlight their concerns.

At a stakeholder meeting on April 5, NIDCO’s vice president, engineering and programme management Steve Garibsingh explained to residents the results of social surveys done by ACQ and Associates between February 18 and March 30 in Crown Point.

He said 92 parcels of land were identified over the 53 acres to be acquired. He said Section Three legal notices were issued to all landowners and, after surveys and studies are completed, the next step will be the publication of the Section Four legal notice which allows the State to take possession of the property.

Garibsingh said in the negotiation stage, the owner may apply for up to 80 per cent of the Commissioner of Valuations’ prior estimate of the property. Upon settlement, the land owner can submit claim for the outstanding 20 per cent of the compensation. He said the land owner will then have to vacate the property.

THA Chief Secretary, Kelvin Charles, speaking on the issue at a recent post-Executive Council media briefing in Scarborough, said the council has approved a policy position on its intervention to ensure a smooth transition for affected residents.

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