Al-Rawi: San Fernando waterfront project moving ahead

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi – File photo

RURAL Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi has said good progress is being made with respect to the San Fernando waterfront development project.

Al-Rawi, who is also San Fernando West MP, gave an update on the project at a Conversations with the Prime Minister forum at Skiffle Bunch Pan Yard, Coffee Street, San Fernando, on March 5.

The Prime Minister called on him to do so after Greater San Fernando Chamber of Commerce president Kiran Singh asked about the project.

Al-Rawi told the audience that the project had been spoken about for the last 40 years, but only the PNM had taken steps towards making it a reality.

“What happened, with the vision of the Government, along with a lot of nagging by your MP and the support of the Honourable Prime Minister, we were able to separate the waterfront redevelopment and development into separate projects.”

Al-Rawi said after six years, a certificate of environmental clearance had been approved for land-filling for the project.

He identified the contractor to do this work as a company called Van Org.

“That contract is expected to start in the month of April, as at last report.”

Al-Rawi estimated the work associated with this contract will be completed within six months.

“Six years to do six months of work, and they are going to be dredging the waterfront and harbourways to create the passageway for vessels to come in.”

He said the water taxi terminal currently at King’s Wharf will move closer to the San Fernando Yacht Club.

“Therefore we get a significant amount of landfill at the area.”

Al-Rawi said work on an improved fishing port at King’s Wharf, which features in phase two of the project, has started.

“The contractor is Warner Construction.”

He added that contracts to undertake additional work at King’s Wharf will soon be concluded by the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott), the project manager for the waterfront.

“We expect in the months of April-May to begin those works.”

Al-Rawi said discussions are under way with the private sector on the acquisition of lands it owns in the area.

He added that the contract for housing development at the waterfront was awarded to Karamath Engineering Services.

“As you know, they put out 54 expressions of interest (EOIs) for 54 apartments. They only got a small 740 people saying they will buy it. So stage one was extremely profitable from EOIs.”

Al-Rawi said the construction of these apartments is expected to begin in the current financial year.

Rowley seemed impressed with the work being done on the project

He told Al-Rawi, “If you put one more pound of cement down there, it (waterfront) will sink.”

The audience laughed in response.

Al-Rawi replied, “I’ll end by saying, Prime Minister, that a lot of that is cement to come, and San Fernando will be demanding its fair share. Thank you for your generosity to us, Prime Minister.”

Rowley reminded the audience that he is Udecott’s line minister.

He said the addition of this to his prime ministerial portfolio has ensured Udecott has functioned properly, in contrast to what happened under previous governments.