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Tuesday 17 September 2019
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Residents uneasy as surveyors arrive

Airport expansion project starts November

Friends and family of Horace and Beverly Henry prepare placards for a protest earlier this year. The Henrys' home at Store Bay Local Road fell in the zone affected by the airport expansion project.
Friends and family of Horace and Beverly Henry prepare placards for a protest earlier this year. The Henrys' home at Store Bay Local Road fell in the zone affected by the airport expansion project.

KINNESHA GEORGE-HARRY

LESS than three months before the scheduled November start for construction of the new terminal and supporting infrastructural works at the ANR Robinson International Airport, affected residents are still uncertain about their futures.

Speaking with Newsday on Saturday, Rhonda Hackett, spokesman for the Provide Equivalent Equitable Compensation for Everyone (PEECE) movement, said residents have noticed surveyors on their properties without permission.

"I told everyone to show them a copy of the letter I forwarded to everyone which shows that the timeframe they gave for surveying had long passed since the month of May and that what they are doing is illegal," Hackett said.

She said the surveyors said they planned to return with police if they are not allowed onto the property.

"However, when they returned, they provided an updated letter that was very generalised, which they manually modified in attempt to personalise it by crossing out and putting in information for it to be addressed specifically to the individual."

Hackett said one person reported that the surveyors were saying the Prime Minister sent them to complete their work in order to move forward.

Speaking at an April 5 meeting hosted by the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) 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 land under consideration and upgrade of the existing terminal was expected to begin in July.

Hackett said she is yet to speak with the Chief Secretary about the concerns of residents. She said several months after requesting a meeting with Kelvin Charles, his office called her on August 13 to schedule a meeting for the following day.

"I informed the secretary that that was too short of a notice. I provided his secretary a timeframe in which most members of the PEECE executive will be available.

"On Friday, when I enquired of the date for the meeting, his secretary said he has to give a new date within the dates we provided. So as soon as he does the necessary, his secretary will get back to us."

Hackett plans to meet with the residents tomorrow to bring them abreast of the situation and decide on the way forward.

She stressed that residents are in support of the airport expansion project but urged consideration be given to their issues.

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said he is fed up of worrying.

"Time is going, yet there has been no official information given to anyone (as) regards the next few weeks, I have to say weeks – basically, leading up to November 1. I am worried and that's only because I have no information. I have my entire family. What are the plans, where are they putting us? I cannot answer any of those questions."

He said although residents have received their section three notices, he does not know where he will live when it is time to move.

In June, Airport Relocation Committee head Allan Richards said displaced residents will receive cash for their properties and be offered land at subsidised prices.

Addressing the affected residents during the second Nidco stakeholder consultation, Richards said land had been allocated at Shirvan, Cove and Courland.

However, the affected resident said there has been no development with regard to immediate housing options.

"We did receive the section three notices, but that's as far as we know. I am of the view that we definitely need new timelines.We haven't seen any area that has been allocated for us, what is happening, we still don't know.They need to do better than that."

Another resident said: "We have been left in the dark for far too long. This is our life. They are doing things underhanded and from the time we open our mouth to ask questions, they believe that you are against them. But we need answers. November is quickly approaching."

Responding to questions at last Wednesday's post-Executive Council media briefing in Scarborough, Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles said he is hoping to meet with the residents before the end of the month.

"A recent attempt was made to contact the principals and they are out of the country. They have indicated when they are likely to be back and during that period, a meeting will be convened mutually," he said.

A week before, electoral representative for the area Clarence Jacob, during another post-Executive Council media briefing, said he intends to meet with the residents.

"We have some information, and once that information is concrete, the Chief Secretary and I would meet with PEECE and bring some peace to their hearts.

"We do not have a specific date in mind, but it would be sooner than you think," Jacob said.

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