WORK on the new airport terminal and associated works at the ANR Robinson international airport in Crown Point has begun.
Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis made the revelation last week as he addressed reporters during the weekly post Executive Council media briefing at the Anne Mitchell-Gift auditorium, Scarborough Library.
Dennis said that the project commenced officially on June 18 and should be completed by 2022.
“While we may not see actual construction work take place maybe for the next six months, the process has begun and the project has officially started. Therefore, within the next two years, the people of Tobago can look forward to a new airport terminal and, of course, upgrades to the existing airport terminal."
Dennis said the project will be a significant boost to the island.
“I believe that the people of Tobago deserve a new airport. It would assist us tremendously in our development thrust and I look forward to that project being completed,” he said.
In January, two contracts were signed between National Infrastructure Development Company Limited (Nidco) and China Railway: one for upgrading the terminal building and the other for constructing the new terminal and associated works, as the government is expected to spend $1.2 billion on the project, including $300 million earmarked for the land acquisition process.
In June 2019, THA officials informed the affected residents they would be offered land at subsidised prices to build their new homes.
Dennis said the development of these lands is expected to be completed by next month.
"Tied to that is the development being undertaken by the THA; the developmental of lands on Cove estate and Shirvan estate to provide a location where persons who would be displaced as a result of the airport project, they are able to purchase lands at those developments at drastically reduced prices.
"I expect that that project would be completed by the end of July, so that those persons can begin to have access to their properties and they can begin to rebuild their homes and start their new lives in a new location."
Dennis assured affected property owners that they have the THA's support.
"The Tobago House of Assembly is committed to giving the necessary support, committed to resolving all outstanding issues to ensure that there is a seamless as possible transition and I understand that it would not be easy for all of them or most of them, but it is necessary for our development. Therefore, with that understanding that it would be difficult, we would demonstrate the necessary empathy and the necessary compassion so that we facilitate as seamless as possible a transition for the persons involved.”
On June 12, financial compensation began for 29 of the property owners affected by the project. On June 10, the Ministry of Finance said $41 million would be paid to 29 property owners in the first wave of compensation. It represented 5.33 acres of the 53 acres needed for the project and included one commercial, four residential and two mixed (home/business) properties. The payments, according to the ministry, are being made by Nidco on behalf of the State.
Property owners, the ministry said, are being contacted by ACQ and Associates, the land acquisition consultant undertaking the process on behalf of the State, for the execution of legal indemnity agreements and collection of payments. It added that the State will enter and take possession of settled empty lands as soon as compensation is paid.