Crown Point residents pack up to meet deadline

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A truck moves a sandbag from one of the homes in the way of the airport expansion project on Tuesday. – David Reid

Residents affected by the construction​​ of the new terminal and associated work at the ANR Robinson International Airport have begun to pack up their belongings to vacate the properties by the September 15 deadline.

Last Friday, the High Court gave the green light for the State to continue acquiring lands in Crown Point and surrounding areas for the expansion of the $1.2 billion ANR Robinson International Airport.

The court dismissed the applications made occupiers of the land for an injunction. The applicants were Horace Henry, Beverly Henry, Andre Anthony, Arlon Alexander, Owen Melville, Cole Percy and Daniel McDougal.

The court, however, ordered the State to provide rental support between $15,000 and $48,000 to five of the claimants by Thursday, and provide storage for six months up to March 10, 2023 for six of the complainants at either the Nipdec warehouse in Shaw Park or any other location.

Spokesman for the Provide Equitable Compensation for Everyone (PEECE) group Rhonda Hackett said they are trying to meet the timeline.

“I don’t know that they are capable, but they are making efforts in that direction and in that regard. The reality in terms of really being able to move out everything within the unrealistic time frame is criminal as an expectation,” she told Newsday on Tuesday.

Hackett said Sunday’s meeting with Tobago House of Assembly (THA) officials was productive.

“I feel positive in terms of the approach taken by the THA. They expressed willingness and commitment to seeking after the welfare and well-being of the residents, I think that they have maintained their commitment and I guess whatever promises they have put forward in the public, they were not just PR to look good as a party,

“I am seeing where efforts are continuously being made to genuinely assist the residents and to satisfy whatever void and needs need to be fulfilled. They are working feverishly at trying to put things in place to ensure that no one has to suffer the negative strain that is being threatened by the State.”

The roof of a house on Crompston Trace is removed on Tuesday as residents vacate the property to make way for the airport expansion. – David Reid

She said the current assembly “stood in solidarity and efforts continue to reflect that.”

She said the challenge now is that the timeline for moving is inadequate.

“While they (the THA) are seeking to get containers and different things for persons to put their stuff in, (the problem) is the time when these things would reach to get to make that kind of move that they have to make.”

She said the State had shown “total disregard and disrespect” for residents.

“If you have been living in a place in some case over 40 years, 50 years and so on, it’s not practical to be able to move without the necessary infrastructure and so on in place to put them. Persons who left before would have literally had to dump their stuff and even give them away.”

She claimed that some residents are even being asked to move by Thursday without receiving their compensation.

She also criticised Tobago West MP Shamfa Cudjoe.

“The parliamentary representative needs to stop spreading erroneous information that unjustly stigmatises residents, stating that they collected monies in the past and refuse to move. This is the first time this section of the area is being acquired.”

She said despite the circumstances, residents are staying positive.

“Their spirits were a bit lifted. Lifted knowing that we have several of the THA officials, inclusive of the Chief Secretary, who would have taken time out of their schedule on a Sunday to meet with individuals and sought after their needs one by one and would have been in detail brainstorming to make efforts to fulfil those needs. I see that as a high level of loyalty.”