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