THA, Finance Minister, MP on Tobago airport evictions

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    The THA’s Chief Secretary says they are exploring the available housing options that can facilitate a smooth transition for the affected families of the Crown Point airport expansion project.

    Yesterday, action was taken by the Commissioner of State Lands towards the eviction of some residents.

    However, the process was halted as residents and their attorney were due to go to court to file an injunction last evening.

    Chief Secretary Farley Augustine says he will be working with the THA’s legal minds to see how the Assembly can help the residents.


    FINANCE MINISTER: DELAYS COSTING $$$

    Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, wants to make it clear that any impression given by the THA that it gave instructions to the Commissioner of State Lands to cease and desist from the land acquisition, is misleading.

    Colm Imbert says the THA has no such power.

    He says the State has been in discussions with the occupants of these lands for the last 3 years, and delays are costing millions of dollars.

    The Minister says the State is taking all necessary steps to acquire and take possessions of the lands as an urgent priority, to avoid further delays.


    MP CUDJOE WEIGHS IN

    Also weighing in on the matter is Tobago East MP Shamfa Cudjoe who says each month where the State cannot advance the project, taxpayers lose at least $5 million.

    In a Facebook post, she explained that, while 122 persons have accepted settlements at a total cost of over $210 million, there are 11 occupants who have been served eviction notices and refuse to negotiate with the State.

    MP Cudjoe said it is difficult to strike a balance between Tobago’s development and the interests of these 11 persons.

    The MP is hoping for a peaceful resolution and for the advancement of the airport project.


    COUVA SOUTH MP: PM’S SILENCE “TROUBLING”

    Meanwhile, Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh is calling on the Prime Minister, Works Minister and Finance Minister to answer some questions about the matter.

    They are:
    • When did the Valuation Division of the Ministry of Finance assess these properties, and what were the recommended valuations?
    • Were the services of any independent valuator procured? If not, then why not? If so, what were their recommended valuations?
    • What is the status of the lands to which these homeowners were to be relocated as far as the Development of Infrastructure is concerned?
    • Who are the contractors involved in the phases of this project, and how much are they to be paid and by what deadline are they expecting part and full payments?

    MP Indarsingh believes the lack of a public statement by the Prime Minister on the matter is “troubling.”