The Prime Minister has said there has been no pushback from residents of East Port of Spain over the planned development in that area.
He said consultations on the recently announced projects began in 2018 and attempts to suggest otherwise were mischievous.
Speaking at the sod-turning ceremony for the Health Ministry’s new headquarters at Queen’s Park East, Dr Rowley said he was shocked by an editorial in a daily newspaper on Monday which said there was pushback from people in the area because no consultation had been done.
“There is no government policy about removing or relocating anybody, and that is where the mischief is in trying to tell people that government is coming to move you, the poor people, to put the rich people in a developed Port of Spain.
"And that is why I was so shocked by the editorial because even though we hadn’t mentioned Sea Lots, the editorial mentioned Sea Lots, mentioned that Sea Lots people, like Port of Spain people, are to be moved from land that they developed, by a high-handed government, without consultation – and all that editorial writer was trying to do was to create mischief in the country.”
Rowley said consultation began in 2018, and there was a major public consultation in September 2018, attended by 220 people, at Government Plaza.
“From that meeting, 40 different stakeholder groups were identified, and from that, we were able to have seven focus groups in 2019, including traffic and transport management on November 17, security and safety on November 13, residential renewal on December 10, commerce and investment on December 11, consideration of a tram system, including discussion with the Dutch embassy, and lastly homelessness and its reduction in the city of Port of Spain.”
The PM said work had already begun on phase one of the revitalisation of the city.
“The consultation with the affected people was such that the land for phase one now has nobody on it. Out of that consultation came the exchange of property and the relocation of the lodge that was in East Port of Spain that is moving to state property in St Clair and giving to the State in compensation the land in East Port of Spain, and that is phase one, which Udecott is moving into now.”
Rowley also made a promise.
“People of Sea Lots, I personally as Prime Minister will be part of that consultation with the people of Sea Lots, and if I’m able to convince them that a better life can be had in the same location, not only for them but for the nation as a whole, I will report back to you.”