Residents affected by the expansion of the ANR Robinson International Airport, scheduled to begin in November, have been assured they would be given monetary compensation as well as land.
People’s National Movement (PNM) PRO and Secretary for Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment Kwesi DesVignes made the revelation while responding to a question from Newsday at a news conference at the party’s headquarters in Scarborough on Wednesday.
He said a policy decision has been reached with the approval of both the executive council and the Cabinet.
“The policy is that we want to offer lands as well for persons with residential interest, for commercial interest and for agricultural interest.”
He added: “The Assembly would have done its research and the executive council subsequently approved a policy which was then transmitted to Trinidad for the Cabinet to approve. Of course, there is a process in approving…the Cabinet just isn’t going to take a document just because we sent it and say yes, stamp of approval, that’s not how things work.
“They would have done their due diligence, they would have found that the policy is worthy of moving forward, the policy can stand scrutiny and the policy does have value.”
He said the residents will be re-engaged shortly to be made aware of this new development.
He identified lands at Shirvan for residential properties, Cove for business and Courland for agricultural interests.
In an immediate response, however, spokesperson for residents Rhonda Hackett said, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” She said she is waiting patiently to see it materialise.
DesVignes encouraged those to be affected to attend the consultations.
“Come and speak with us, engage ACQ and Associates. ACQ has been on the ground, they’ve been meeting with people.”.
Speaking at an April 5 meeting hosted by National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) at Rovanel’s Resort in Crown Point, project manager Onika Morris-Alleyne said the project is estimated to be completed in December 2020.
Morris-Alleyne said Nidco was getting ready to begin the land surveys and studies to begin the detailed design of the project. She said the evaluation work on the lands under consideration and upgrade of the existing terminal is expected to begin in July, while construction of the new main terminal is scheduled to begin in November.
Asked if the lands will be available by then, DesVignes said: “I can guarantee you that we’re doing everything humanly possible – and probably even superhuman as well – to ensure that we do this. The Division of Infrastructure happens to be the agency responsible on the island, in collaboration with other partners, to develop lands particularly for the residential areas. So, we are going to be doing what it takes… Take night and make day…We are going to do what it takes because we are committed to do right by the people of Crown Point.”
Residents have expressed concern about other residents who were displaced previously without compensation, leaving them wary of the current project.
DesVignes sought to dispel those fears and called on residents to trust him.
He responded: “I have concerns about many things that were done before me as well, but they don’t dictate how I go about my daily life. So those concerns are duly noted, and we have taken it into consideration. We know that is part of the reason why there is a lot of difficulty with persons trusting this process, but again we have committed to do right by the people and we are going to do right by the people of Tobago. We’re not taking that for granted at all.”