THA Minority Leader: Friendship Connector Road falling apart

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Kelvon Morris Minority Leader, Tobago House of Assembly – David Reid

THA Minority Leader Kelvon Morris claims the Friendship Connector Road in Canaan, Tobago, is falling apart.

He made the claim on June 27 while delivering his response to the THA’s $3.96 billion budget in the Assembly Legislature, Scarborough.

Alleging that the THA had used $300 million of the assembly’s development fund budget to hastily construct roads, ahead of Tobago’s inaugural carnival in October 2022, Morris said, “Madam Presiding Officer (Abby Taylor), Tobagonians will remember the disastrous Friendship Connector Road and as we speak, the reason why it is disastrous, the Friendship Connector Road, is – because just today it was brought to my attention – a road that is not yet even open, completed, not yet even commissioned, is falling apart.”

He added that it was disintegrating.

“After $70 million (original cost of construction) of Tobagonians’ money is spirited away to their friends, the road is already breaking away. That is the legacy of the member for Scarborough/Mt Grace (Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development Trevor James and the member for Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside (Chief Secretary Farley Augustine). That is your legacy.”

Morris said Tobagonians will also recall the court injunctions against the THA for failing to adhere to environmental laws over the past few months.

Workmen lay asphalt on the $70 million Friendship Connector road project. – File photo

He noted the Friendship Connector Road, which is being constructed by California Stucco Ltd, was going to be built and paid for by the central government. But he claimed the THA decided to use “Tobago’s scarce resources and now the road is breaking apart.”

Morris added, “What is even more embarrassing is that at the rate that they are going, the new airport terminal will be completed and that very connector road that is breaking apart will still be under construction.

“Madam Presiding Officer, even if a secret deal to be made to ensure the connector road could go through the Store Bay Local Road is patched, there exist no plans on how it could be connected to the airport.”

The Darrel Spring/Whim assemblyman said the original plan was for an international-standard dual-carriageway road.

“Tobagonians, for the first time, would have benefited from two-lane roads. We don’t see that in Tobago.”

Morris said the THA derailed that plan.

“They decided that they wanted to spend your money, that could have benefited you in other ways. And the reason why they wanted to spend your money is that they could be in control of the tender.

“And because they are in control of the tender, they can, in fact, decide who they want to give. And we saw the effects of that. They gave it to their favourite contractor, California Stucco, the same contractors that received a contract in record-breaking time – three days: a bid came in on day one, day two, a bid was evaluated and day three, a letter of award was given –world record. If that isn’t corruption, Madam Presiding Officer, I don’t know what is.”

Morris said Tobagonians have been asking him about the new estimated cost of construction of the road, and also wanted to know the terms of payment for the contractor as well as the interest rates on the project.