Five of 7 families ready to make way for Tobago airport

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine at a meeting on Sunday with Crown Point residents affected by the airport project and THA officials. –

FIVE of seven families affected by the construction​​ of the new airport terminal in Tobago are finally ready to move.

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.

On Sunday, Augustine said in a Facebook post most of the day had been spent “working out and finalising arrangements for their transfer to new living arrangements.”

He said it had been agreed that the two Percy families, at whose homes demolition has begun, have been given new accommodation and land that are acceptable to them. As a result, he said, they will be able to move before September 15.

The Henry families have already begun emptying their homes and have a temporary plan until rented accommodation for them is found.

“They have finalised their choice of lot/land, storage will be provided by the THA and attempts made to retrieve their agreed compensation for their property from the court so they can begin to build immediately.”

In the case of Daniel McDougal, he would get assistance with draughtsman services, his aggregate and other materials would be moved to his new building site and the land prepared so he can restart building.

“He will need to go through the process of getting his compensation. Since he did not have a completed home in the affected area, the timeline doesn’t affect him. There is an offer for the THA to assist him in the actual rebuilding.”

Phillis Anthony, 80, will receive new accommodation from the THA.

The post added that Owen Melville, however, “will definitely not be fully ready for September 15.

“Storage will be provided for him, but it will be a mammoth task for the packing given the size of the estate. He needs to complete process of negotiation and compensation. The THA will also help with rental but there seems to be a low inventory in the area. Mr Melville agreed today to land for himself and will be one of the 50 people we will help rebuild.”

Augustine said the rest of the family, who co-own the estate, will be allocated land that can be shared among them.

Dealing with the Alexanders, he said, is the most difficult task.

“They have two buildings on the same land. One is a massive structure. They have several apartments, and three distinct family dwelling areas…On top of that, they have international guests booked for October through the end of the year (who) now have to be reimbursed and carefully directed elsewhere.”

Storage, the post said, will be provided at Shaw Park for their appliances and furniture.

“It will take a while to pack up all of these apartments and move the items. We have to find suitable accommodation for three distinct family settings…There is no way all of this can be done by September 15.”

It added that the THA supported​ and supports the call from the residents for the additional time to allow, among other things, for negotiating and collecting fair payments for property, constructing of new homes in part or whole, storage, completing land preparation at Cove, and ultimately moving these families.

“To move them prematurely may result in significant social harm. Thankfully, the delay caused by the court case and the advocacy resulted in some families now being ready to move. It will be difficult for at least two of these families to move by September 15.”

Augustine added that the administration’s position remains consistent.

“While we support the construction of a new terminal, there must be fair compensation, adequate temporary accommodation and/or time given for construction of new homes and enterprises. There must be a humane way to do this.”