Mi­nor­i­ty Coun­cil: Let THA manage airport expansion

Mi­nor­i­ty Coun­cil­lor Dr Faith B Yis­rael is call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to al­low the To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly (THA) to man­age the ANR Robin­son In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port ex­pan­sion project.

Speak­ing at this week’s Mi­nor­i­ty Coun­cil­lor’s me­dia brief­ing, at the op­po­si­tion’s new of­fice ont Main Street, Scar­bor­ough, Yis­rael she said laws gov­ern who should un­der­take the project.

“This is the To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly and un­der the Fifth Sched­ule we are re­spon­si­ble for our wharves and air­ports and we should have been re­spon­si­ble for this project whol­ly and sole­ly be­cause we have the au­thor­i­ty to do so ac­cord­ing to the law,” Yis­rael said.

The Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment is cur­rent­ly han­dling the project and has man­dat­ed the Na­tion­al In­fra­struc­ture De­vel­op­ment Com­pa­ny Lim­it­ed NID­CO to man­age and over­see it.

She said while the Mi­nor­i­ty Coun­cil has no is­sue with de­vel­op­ment and agrees that “To­ba­go needs to be de­vel­oped quick­ly,” steps should be tak­en to en­sure To­bag­o­ni­ans are treat­ed fair­ly.

Yis­rael not­ed that the ab­sence of con­trol by the As­sem­bly demon­strates the Gov­ern­ment’s lack of con­fi­dence in the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion.

She said now is the per­fect time for the PNM- con­trolled Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment to show that they have con­fi­dence in the PNM- con­trolled Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil.

“This would have been the per­fect op­por­tu­ni­ty to hand over what­ev­er mon­ey they have and give the THA the au­ton­o­my to han­dle the process. The Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment’s hold on to the project shows that they do not have con­fi­dence in the Kelvin Charles-led ad­min­is­tra­tion,” she added.

Yis­rael said she felt the frus­tra­tion of af­fect­ed Crown Point/ Bon Ac­cord when she at­tend­ed the stake­hold­er meet­ing host­ed by NI­id­co last Fri­day.

She said al­though con­struc­tion is due to be­gin in No­vem­ber, res­i­dents have not been giv­en spe­cif­ic in­for­ma­tion about how the project af­fects their lives.

“They still have not been giv­en any in­for­ma­tion on what their com­pen­sa­tion pack­ages would be, whether they would be get­ting mon­ey whether they would be get­ting lands or whether they would be get­ting homes equal to or bet­ter than what they have now,” Yis­rael said.

She con­grat­u­lat­ed the area rep­re­sen­ta­tive Clarence Ja­cob for pub­licly ques­tion­ing the process for the com­pul­so­ry ac­qui­si­tion of the lands.

At the con­sul­ta­tion, Ja­cob said: “ I am not 100 per cent com­fort­able as the Area Rep­re­sen­ta­tive ... I have to toe the line and toe­ing the line could be a dan­ger­ous thing be­cause at the end of the day I have to rep­re­sent the peo­ple.”

She said Ja­cob’s state­ment showed that al­though Nid­co of­fi­cials in­sist­ed that the THA “ is in­ti­mate­ly in­volved in the process”, this was not the case as Ja­cob was al­so seek­ing clar­i­ty on the project.

- Loyse Vincent

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