Bon Accord residents: We're not moving

Rhonda Hackett, the spokesperson for residents affected by the airport expansion project.
Rhonda Hackett, the spokesperson for residents affected by the airport expansion project.

Members of the Pro­vide Equiv­a­lent Eq­ui­table Com­pen­sa­tion for Every­one (PEECE) Movement say they will not be moving from Bon Accord to make way for the new terminal at the ANR Robinson International Airport.

Speaking with Newsday on Tuesday, spokesman for the group Rhonda Hackett said when the National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO) served a notice in September, it said people would be paid by October, but so far no one has received any compensation for their land.

“Our current position is that we would not be moving. There would be no movement by anyone.

"The government needs to get their act together, THA needs to get their act together," she said.

Hackett said the residents have heard little since the last NIDCO meeting in June, but had made some personal observations.

“We would have seen persons coming around apparently surveying to the eastern side of Gaskin and that’s just our personal observation. Some residents had indicated also that NIDCO did call asking persons to bring in their claims.

"However, our valuer would have had to go in and ask NIDCO some questions."

She said when residents have put questions to NIDCO, "They can’t give any precise or details answers.”

Hackett said residents remain upset and frustrated by the process, expressing disgust and frustration because of what they complain are the deception and dishonesty they face.

She repeated that they support the construction of the airport terminal.

But, she said, “Let us do it right and let Tobagonians not be disrespected in this manner. Better can be done. Let better be done.”

In May 2017, the THA held its first public consultation for stakeholders who might be affected by the land acquisition for the construction. Land and property owners were given details of the plans. The Government also wanted to start the registration of owners of land, residential or commercial properties in the area.

At that time, residents were told the Government was seeking to acquire 84 acres of land, relocating around 120 landowners. Construction was to begin in December of that year.

During the meeting, project consultant Patrick Drakes showed the parcel of land earmarked for acquisition, spanning the area south of Store Bay Local Road, between Gaskin Bay Road on the east and Store Bay Feeder Road on the west .

In April 2019, at another meeting hosted by NIDCO, project manager Onika Morris-Alleyne said the project was estimated to be completed in December 2020. Adding that NIDCO was getting ready to begin the land surveys and studies, she said the evaluation work on the land under consideration and upgrade of the existing terminal was expected to begin in July, and construction of the new main terminal in November.

A September press release from NIDCO told residents they had until February 2020 to vacate their property and hand it over to the State.

The movement's next plan, Hackett said, is a thanksgiving service.

“PEECE has always been grounded where God is concerned. God is who is responsible for having us where we are thus far, and rather than look at the negative side – if the government had its way, we would have been long gone with nothing whatsoever. So in that regard, we need to give God thanks and praise,” she said.

The service is carded for Thursday at the Bon Accord Seventh Day Adventist Church.


"Bon Accord residents: We’re not moving"

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