'Foolish fantasy' – PNM Tobago leader slams $4b Roxborough plan

PNM political leader Ancil Dennis  -
PNM political leader Ancil Dennis -

PNM Tobago Council political leader Ancil Dennis has dismissed his PDP counterpart Watson Duke's $4 billion plan to develop Roxborough as pure fantasy and gimmickry.

He also accused Duke, the electoral representative for Roxborough/Argyle, of unveiling the proposal without consultation with Chief Secretary Farley Augustine or the Executive Council.

Duke revealed the plan in New York on Monday at a Caribbean Diaspora Investment Forum's Invest Tobago town hall meeting.

The proposal features provisions for an airport, marina complex, luxury villas, free-trade zone and a medical tourism complex.

An animation concept of the city of Roxborough. -

In a letter to newspaper editors on Friday, Dennis said he was confused by what was going on within the PDP.

He wondered what was the status of the PDP's Scarborough revitalisation plan.

"Do you remember the City of Scarborough plan which underpinned PDP’s THA election campaign? After a few wishy-washy consultations, that project is now playing second fiddle to the City of Roxborough plan which has an estimated cost of over $4 billion according to Watson Duke himself, while speaking to more chairs than actual people last Monday night."

Dennis questioned whether any feasibility study was done before the plan was unveiled.

"The PDP-led THA’s investment strategy is to send the most clownish of them all globe-trotting to criticise the country’s government, and promote a project at preposterous cost, that is based more on Duke’s personal fantasy than feasibility and possibility. After all, the Chief Secretary and the rest of his Executive Council knew not of this plan before it was revealed to the world; and I challenge any of them to say otherwise."

Newsday tried to reach Augustine and Duke for further details about the plan but neither has responded.

Dennis said Duke is managing his portfolio as Deputy Chief Secretary as if he were still president of the Public Services Association (PSA).

A blueprint of the plan for the city of Roxborough. -

"They did not deliver the promised...ex-gratia payments to each Tobagonian before last Christmas, neither did they deliver the 5,000-plus jobs promised on every ‘block’ on the island which were to be available within six months of their assumption of office, but here we have another grandiose promise of a mega city in the heart of a small town, with artificial islands and an airport on the sea.

"Clearly, they are taking us Tobagonians for a bunch of fools."

Dennis said Duke was being hypocritical in condemning the government's plan to bring Sandals Resort to Tobago while now seeking to do something similar.

"The same fatuous one who ran Sandals from Tobago is allowed to sell the city of Roxborough to the world! Not those investment-ready tourism and agriculture projects on the island, not the City of Scarborough previously touted by them, not Tobago Performing Arts Company or Tobago Agribusiness Development Company; but the city of Roxborough inclusive of an artificial island that is likely to cost US$1 billion per square mile.

"While it may me good political strategy to sell pipe dreams to the electorate, it is quite embarrassing that this same approach is adopted with professional investors and businessmen in the real world."

Dennis said he was concerned by the strategy being used to enhance the island. He said that instead of trying to create a "Las Vegas or a Dubai in selected areas" by using software, it would be prudent to "pursue feasible, affordable, sustainable, and indigenous development that is consistent with our local context and culture, especially in the environmentally treasured northeast Tobago."

Dennis said Duke previously taking credit for chasing Sandals from Tobago also makes him the worst candidate to try to sell Tobago to the world.

"Clearly, Watson Duke is the real boss and cannot even be made to report to us...somebody must rein in the chief clown before the world thinks that Tobago is a real circus."


"‘Foolish fantasy’ – PNM Tobago leader slams $4b Roxborough plan"

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