Housing Minister Penelope Beckles MP is joined by Minister Adrian Leonce MP, and LSA Chairman Wayne Innis, for the ceremonial turning of the sod at the Glenroy II site in Princes Town, of the PETROTRIN Residential Lots Programme. (Image courtesy Ministry of Housing and Urban Development)

Former employees of now defunct state-owned energy company, Petrotrin, are one step closer to seeing a promise of residential lots being fulfilled, following a sod-turning ceremony at the Glenroy II site, in Princes Town, yesterday.

Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Penelope Beckles, turned the sod for Phase I of the PETROTRIN Residential Lots Programme, which was launched in 2020 for former employees of PETROTRIN who were terminated in November, 2018, as a result of the closure of the refinery, and the restructuring of the exploration and production activities.

“The Government is committed to working in the best interests of all citizens, and as such is doing all it can to cushion the effects of the fallout incurred from the PETROTRIN closure, ever mindful that access to these residential lots can be a real game changer in improving the socio-economic prospects of these ex-employees,” Minister Beckles said at the sod-turning event.

She added: “By enabling our citizens a pathway to property ownership, we are not just meeting a family’s need for safe and secure shelter and the ability to earn a living through agricultural pursuits, but we are also providing a tangible opportunity that will change their lives forever.”

The PETROTRIN Residential Lots Programme provides serviceable lots of approximately 5,000 square feet for a lease period of 199 years, with all of the required infrastructure, lot delineating, and statutory approvals free of charge to former, eligible ex-PETROTRIN employees.  The Programme is utilising the Ministry’s Aided Self-Help Housing model.

The Land Settlement Agency, under the remit of the Ministry, will be responsible for developing the lots through the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) and the Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF), while the Commissioner of State Lands will be responsible for issuing the lease titles for the land.

In keeping with the Ministry’s Aided Self-Help Housing model, pre-approved house plans, technical assistance and oversight for the construction of the houses would be provided by the Land Settlement Agency, while subsidized loans can be accessed through the Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance Company (TTMF) for eligible applicants requiring mortgage facilities for home construction.

Applications which have been received from eligible, former employees for the lots, have been entered into the Ministry’s database, and will be selected when each of the nine sites currently earmarked for the Programme is ready for distribution, utilising the Ministry’s random selection draw process.

Also, in attendance at yesterday’s sod turning ceremony were: Adrian Leonce MP, Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development; Claire Davidson-Williams, Permanent Secretary at the Housing Ministry; Nirmala Ramlogan, Deputy PS at the Housing Ministry; Wayne Innis, Chairman of the LSA; and Hazar Hosein, CEO of the LSA.