Chief Secretary Meets With PEECE on Airport Project

Chief Secretary Hon. Kelvin Charles met with executive members of the group, Provide Equivalent Equitable Compensation for Everyone (PEECE) yesterday (August 26), at the Division of Education, Innovation and Energy, to personally hear their concerns and views about the upcoming ANR Robinson International Airport expansion project.

Representing residents to be affected by the airport project, chairman of PEECE, Ms. Rhonda Hackett, informed the Chief Secretary that the residents are not against the project but are concerned about the process and how they (the residents) are being treated.

Mr. Charles reminded the members that the Land Acquisition Process is enshrined in the laws of Trinidad and Tobago and must take its course.  He further emphasized that he believes the THA ought to exercise a duty of care to the residents of Tobago and in that regard, the THA is seeking to ensure that the residents are treated fairly and the transition is as smooth as possible.

The meeting agreed on the following:

1. PEECE will select a member of their group to be on the THA Airport Relocation Committee.

2. Further consideration will be given to ensure residents are not required to evacuate lands before January 2020.

3. PEECE will forward a list of persons with irregular and/or peculiar property ownership issues to the Chief Secretary.

4. The THA will provide counselling for persons whose health is being affected (due to the project), based on a list provided by PEECE.

5. PEECE will forward a document of recommendations for the various stages of the acquisition process to the Chief Secretary.

6. The THA will review PEECE’s recommendation for the distribution (by sale) of the lands that will be developed at COVE and Shirvan.

Additionally, Chief Secretary Charles indicated that the Airport Relocation Committee set up by the THA, identified lands at COVE (commercial) and Shirvan (residential) for affected residents to consider for purchase, at a significantly reduced cost, after receiving their compensation packages from the Land Acquisition Process.

Mr. Charles also explained that while the THA is ready to commence development of these lands, the THA is awaiting approval from the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) before proceeding with the development.  Additionally, Mr. Charles continued to emphasize to PEECE that all residents should ensure that they source a registered valuator to value their properties, which would be paid for by the state.

Ms. Hackette told the Chief Secretary that PEECE was grateful for the invitation to meet with him, so they could candidly share their concerns about the process.  She indicated that while PEECE is willing to work with the THA in an effort to achieve the best possible outcome for all residents, there are still elements of the process that will need careful consideration in order to be resolved.

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