Chief Sec: No Tobago project should be like airport expansion

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: ANR Robinson International Airport, Crown Point, Tobago.

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine has said no future development in Tobago must be carried out in the same way as the billion-dollar ANR Robinson Airport expansion project.

He said if the same process is used to acquire land, “The whole of Tobago should revolt.

“There must be a humane way to do development.

“No one is saying that a new airport isn’t needed. What we are arguing is that there is a better way to manage the change and to manage people and families.”

Augustine was speaking on Tuesday night at a district town meeting at the Canaan/Bon Accord Multipurpose Facility.

Updating the audience on the status of the relocation process undertaken for the airport expansion, Augustine said the THA has had several meetings with some of the displaced residents of Store Bay Local Road.

There were prolonged protests before the project began over the relocation of and compensation to some of the families affected.

Augustine said the THA had agreed to “shift policies in major ways.”

Displaced residents, he said, would not have to pay the THA in full to begin to construct their new homes on land provided by the assembly.

“In fact, the instruction is, if all you have to pay down now is $100, pay the $100, (and) sign up for a lease-to-own arrangement that comes built-in with an inter-generational lease-type system, meaning that if you die your children can continue to pay little, little until the family pays off for it.

“But we want you to start your construction as soon as possible.”