No development without a price

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PNM Tobago Council political leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine at a press conference at Pumpmill, Scarborough, Tuesday. – DAVID REID

People’s National Movement (PNM) Tobago Council political leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine says there is no development without a price.

She was responding on Tuesday to claims by some disgruntled Crown Point/Canaan/Bon Accord residents that the Government is acting high-handedly in acquiring lands for the ANR Robinson airport expansion project.

The $1.2 billion project is expected to begin next month.

Last week, National Infrastructure Development Co (Nidco) workers entered a resident’s farm at Silk Cotton Trace Extension, Bon Accord, and began clearing the land with bulldozers.

The resident’s brother captured the incident on video and posted it on Facebook. In the footage, the man accused the Government and Nidco of being high-handed in their approach.

He also claimed Nidco entered the farm even though his brother had not yet negotiated proper compensation for the property.

Several other residents also feared Nidco would take their properties without their receiving suitable compensation.

A December 10 notice issued by the acting commissioner of state lands instructed residents to turn over their properties to the State within seven days of receipt.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries said in a release the letters were sent out “prematurely and violated an undertaking given to affected residents.”

It added an agreement was made for further discussions for two to three weeks before the acquisition process resumed.

But speaking during a news conference at the PNM’s campaign headquarters, Pumpmill, Scarborough, Davidson-Celestine urged residents to seek suitable compensation.

She also said development engenders some level of inconvenience.

“One of the things I know with that process is that it allows for negotiation with the Nidco representatives,” she said. “And so I would urge those who have additional requests or who are not satisfied with what is put forward on the table at this time to continue to negotiate until they can come to the point of agreement in terms of compensation.”

Davidson-Celestine, who is contesting the Lambeau/Signal Hill electoral district in the January 25 THA elections, said Tobagonians also want progress.

“They have been articulating for some time now, advocating that we need to advance the development of the airport, as well as other areas that would cause all of us to lead meaningful lives.

“But the thing with development is that sometimes we are inconvenienced. And this is just one of those situations.”

She urged “those who are facing the inconvenience now to understand what the bigger picture is.

“It is all about ensuring that we can set a bigger platform where their children and grandchildren can all lead meaningful lives…

“So I urge them to continue to negotiate until that time that they are satisfied but the advancement of Tobago must go on.”

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