RURAL Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi and Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan are optimistic about infrastructural improvements coming for San Fernando in the coming fiscal year.
They expressed their optimism at the opening of the Rienzi Kirton Overpass in San Fernando on Wednesday
Construction of the overpass began in 2020 and cost approximately $16 million. The overpass is part of the wider San Fernando waterfront development project. It was built by the Works and Transport Ministry's PURE division and Coosals Construction Company.
Al- Rawi, who is also San Fernando West MP, said, "This is a project that impacts a community in a very significant way."
Between 2013 and 2015, he continued, people were killed trying to cross the Rienzi-Kirton Highway near where the overpass now stands.
"Young children were killed as they were crossing to go to school."
Al-Rawi reminded the media there were many schools close by, such as ASJA Girls' and Boys' Colleges and San Fernando Government Secondary School.
As someone who grew up in the area, Al-Rawi said, it was impossible to have 200,000 people living close to a major highway with no means of crossing it safely.
"You are standing on a walkway that didn't really exist before."
Al-Rawi viewed the overpass as an important component in the wider San Fernando waterfront development project.
"This is the connectivity to get there. We are going to be agitating for another walkway closer to Skinner Park as we build a secondary ground. We are going to ask Cabinet to consider that."
Al-Rawi reminded the media that in his budget presentation on Monday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert mentioned significant development and redevelopment being identified for San Fernando in fiscal 2023.
"San Fernando has waited a very long time to get its turn at development. Under this government and with me as its MP, if I may be bold enough to say so, we are seeing development now that we have not seen for 40 years."
Sinanan agreed with Al-Rawi.
"San Fernando will see a drastic change in redevelopment of the San Fernando waterfront project."
Sinanan said at his ministry, "We don't just talk, we're about action."
While general construction activities were delayed over the last two years owing to the covid19 pandemic, Sinanan was happy the overpass had been completed on time, within budget and at miminum inconvenience to the public.
At 52 metres in length, Sinanan said the overpass is one of the largest in TT.
Al-Rawi thanked Sinanan and Coosal Group of Companies executive chairman Sieunarine Persad Coosal for ensuring the overpass was built on time and within budget. He also praised Persad Coosal for ensuring residents from the surrounding communities were employed in the construction of the overpass.
On Monday, Imbert said, "The San Fernando Waterfront Redevelopment will modernise the city of San Fernando and the surrounding communities. The project is being advanced in phases. with phase one being constructed at a cost of $247 million, involving eight projects."
One these projects is the construction of a new coastal projection system along Lady Hailes Avenue between Hatter's Bay and the San Fernando water taxi terminal, at a cost of $67 million. This project is scheduled for completion in 2024.
When it is completed, Imbert said, " The frequency and severity of coastal erosion and coastal flooding to the area will be reduced,"
Another project is widening Lady Hailes Avenue into a dual carriageway at a cost of $136 million. This is schedued for completion in 2023.
Imbert said commercial and residential squatters are being relocated from the San Fernando waterfront redevelopment area "through a collaborative effort between the Land Settlement Agency and Udecottat a cost of $43 million."
Another project under the San Fernando waterfront redevelopment is the the reclamation of 3.8 hectares of land at King’s Wharf North. Imbert said this is being done at a cost of $78 million.
"Construction has begun, with completion in 2023."
He also said a new fishing facility is being built at King's Wharf at a cost of $38 million.This project is scheduled for completion next year.
Imbert said, "The new facility and jetty will accommodate 72 fishermen and 50 fishing vessels."