Rhonda Hackett

Camille McEachnie

Although Crown Point landowners are expected to start receiving money for their properties from the state tomorrow, Provide Equitable Compensation for Everyone (PEECE) chairperson Rhonda Hackett is unmoved by the activity, saying the process is still being rushed.

“This Government is highly irresponsible and rushing people off their lands during COVID-19, although they have warned landlords not to do so. A cheque in hand will not do,” Hackett said yesterday after Government announced the first batch of 29 Crown Point property owners affected by the ANR Robinson International Airport expansion project will receive their funds tomorrow.

The PEECE Movement represents some of the people affected by the project and has openly said it is in favour of the project but want property owners to be properly compensated.

According to a release from the Finance Ministry yesterday, the state’s executing agency, the National Infrastructure Development Company Limited (NIDCO), will pay property owners for the land and occupy it after payment. Some $41 million is to be paid for 5.33 of the 53 acres required for the project.

“The funding for this land acquisition has been raised by the Ministry of Finance,” the release said.

The lands are located between the Store Bay Local Road and Bon Accord area, at the end of the airport’s fence. It noted too that property owners are being informed of the payment by the Land Acquisition Consultant firm ACQ and Associates.

Reacting to the news, Hackett questioned where property owners are expected to go.

“Birds have nests, dogs have kennels but we have nowhere for persons to relocate,” she said.

She said Shirvan Road, the site earmarked for property owners’ relocation, currently has nothing in place. She also said the Section Four notices handed to owners on September 6, 2019, have expired as the statutory six-month period has passed.

On January 29 at the expansion project’s signing ceremony for the two-year project, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced it would cost $1.2 billion. Among the costs he noted were $36 million for an upgrade to the existing terminal, $870 for the new terminal and $300 million for the lands to be acquired.

The contract for expansion was signed between NIDCO and China Railway Construction (Caribbean) Company Limited.