Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis arrives at the Magdelena Grand Hotel and Resort in Lowland’s, Tobago, for yesterday’s swearing-in of THA Assemblymen.

The ANR Robinson Airport expansion project continues to be surrounded by controversy with the Chief Secretary now accusing a former PDP candidate of using the project to create racial tension.

Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis hosted the first THA post-Executive Council media briefing yesterday, since the THA elections. Dennis addressed a social media post which stated that Nidco Chairman Herbert George announced that the government plans to acquire more lands at Crown Point for the ANR Robinson Airport Expansion project while presenting at a Joint Select Committee meeting on Monday.

The Chief Secretary described the statement as “irresponsible” as he said the government only plans to acquire the “53 acres that has already been approved by the Cabinet and 12 acres that were part of the arrangement since 1996.”

Dennis also criticized a former PDP candidate for adding a comment to the social media post stating that the additional lands are going to be acquired to “construct condominiums for owners who look nothing like you or me.”

Dennis openly denounced the comment.

He said, “The comment is being used to incite racial emotions in the people of Tobago and any attempt to use this project to racially divide us must be rejected.”

Meanwhile, chairman of the Provide Equivalent Equitable Compensation for Everyone (PEECE) Movement Rhonda Hackett accused the Government of being misleading.

When the project was first announced in 2018, she said the scope of the project required a total of 84 acres of land which was divided into phases.

“While it is they now claim they no longer require 84 acres and they cut it down to 53 plus the 12 acres they acquired 22 years ago, they have redefined the balance as a different project when in actuality it was the phase two of the same project.”

She said a release issued by Nidco to substantiate the claims clearly shows the government is again being deceptive and selective in its use of words as the caption for the release reads “Lands to be acquired for construction of the ANR Robinson Airport Expansion project.”

She said the only reference made to the access road for the project is a one-line footnote at the end of the statement.

“The Airport Access road will be designed and constructed by the Ministry of Works and Transport. The airport access road is independent of the construction of the terminal building.”

Hackett asked if they are being open why “didn’t they illustrate where the access road is going to be placed.”

Guardian Media reached out to Nidoc Chairman Herbert George regarding the allegations made by Hackett but there was no response.