ANR Robinson Airport in Tobago

Crown Point residents to be affected by the ANR Robinson Airport Expansion project are resolute in their commitment to stay on their properties until the Government meets their basic relocation needs.

The residents, collectively known as the Provide Equivalent Equitable Compensation for Everyone (PEECE) Movement, held a protest at Crown Point on Thursday.

Spokesman for the group Rhonda Hackett said although government officials have stated that additional payments have been made to residents who have accepted compensation, there is more to the story.

“It is our understanding that many persons who would have gone in to collect cheques had to run back out. Why? The compensation cannot build back house and buy land it is totally inadequate and I don’t see that our Government will be boldly turning citizens of Trinidad and Tobago into vagrants.”

A release from the Ministry of Finance dated July 9, said 41 property owners to date have negotiated and settled with the State at a total cost of approximately $58 million.

The Government has been issuing checks to persons in Tobago she said and telling them “go and find rent” and at the same time persons are beings asked to pay for storage and rebuild with the same funds. According to Hackett the treatment being meted out to Tobagonians is “totally inhumane and unfair.”

“Its almost as if the Government feels that Tobagonians are fools and we don’t know how to calculate money,” she said.

She added: “In Curepe, 14 residents or property owners were issued $86 million while in Tobago 29 residents are being issued $41 million. Do the math, more than half the number of persons in Tobago, less than half the amount of money, also in Tobago what is the reason for the inequity?”

She said while the residents are not in any way opposed to the airport expansion project, she believes that the residents should be treated fairly by giving them enough time to rebuild their homes at the properties promised at Shirvan in addition to being fairly compensated.

The group said the representatives of the Tobago House of Assembly have given them nothing but broken promises while the Representative for Tobago West Shamfa Cudjoe previously sent an emissary to speak with the residents about their concerns.

Hackett said the only response they received from the area representative was a public statement by Cudjoe who said: “In spite of the naysayers and the detractors this project must go on. This project is here to bring in economic growth and development for Tobago and we will proceed regardless.” When contacted for a response to the claim, Cudjoe said she has never asked anyone to communicate with the residents on her behalf.

“My position from day one was, and still is that I hope that the residents who have not come to a place of agreement yet, that they are able to come to an agreement with the government and they are treated justly and fairly,” she said.

The Ministry of Finance release also stated that the $58 million compensation payout represents 8.7 acres of the 53 acres of land required for the construction of the new terminal which includes two commercial, nine residential and three mixed (home business) properties.