24/06/2018 – The Trinidad Guardian. / Home owners and business operators who are to be displaced by the Curepe Flyover-officially called the Churchill Roosevelt Highway/Southern Main Road Flyover-are appealing to the Government to give them fair compensation for their properties.
Meanwhile, others who have already agreed to a settlement are yet to be paid by the Government.
Wiping tears, a pensioner asked, “What can I do to stop them from taking my home?”
The 80-year-old woman gestured to her modest home and said “My husband worked day and night to provide for us and my children work hard to maintain it for their children.
“Imagine at this stage of my life, I have to pack up and go and if you see where they want to put us. There are no lights and water and we will have to start over from scratch. I don’t know if I have it in me to survive that.”
The woman said her property had been valued at just over $3 million, but she was only being offered up to $1 million.
People being displaced have been offered relocation to an area close to the Licensing Authority in Caroni at a reduced price.
One businessman said although he had plans to relocate before being approached by the State, he too was not satisfied with the compensation being offered to him.
“It is not enough because they are not considering the income we make as a commercial establishment.”
Another businessman, close to tears, said “This is having a negative psychological impact on us because of the frustration this process has brought. Regarding compensation, nothing has been finalised.”
People in the area continue to occupy their properties because they are yet to arrive at a figure for compensation, he said. “They wanted us to move since last year because they are six months behind but we are yet to receive any money, so we aren’t going anywhere.”
A Valsayn homeowner commiserating with those affected said “We have been back and forth with the ministry more than a year now and it’s been a long slog, but this is the price of progress.”
A man who has been living in the area since the early 1970s claimed that “the unfortunate thing is that people with lesser-value homes have been displaced but Valsayn residents remain untouched.
This is probably because the value of land is higher and Government does not want to get into a back and forth with homeowners that have means.”
At Farah’s Court town houses located at the front of Kay-Donna, a resident said the owner/property developer had left the requisite acreage in anticipation of such a project being undertaken.
A spokesman close to the project claimed the Curepe Flyover had been “altered or shifted so that people at Farah’s court would not be dislocated.
Instead, the poorest people on the other side had to face the brunt of it.”
Alarmed by the effect this project would have on the area, which had remained largely private and hidden away behind Kay-Donna‘s high walls, he said “Some of these people have lived here longer than I have been alive and it’s unfortunate.
If they were consulted several years ago and not just six months ago, it would have given them ample time to adjust.”
Franchise holders for KFC and Pizzahut, Prestige Holdings said negotiations were continuing.
Also awaiting payment is Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, who said he was a minority shareholder on the executive team which owns the iconic drive-in cinema. Sinanan:
Asked to respond to concerns raised by people in the area, Sinanan said they have a choice.
“They will get their money and they don’t have to go there (Caroni).
They can go anywhere else and live or buy a property.”
Sinanan expressed surprise that those affected were upset and dissatisfied with the compensation being offered. He distanced himself from claims that he had a role to play in the settlements being offered and the payment of monies.
He said Section 3 notices served in 2013 and Section 4 notices served in the last couple of months were related to compulsory land acquisition.
“The land acquisition being done under compulsory acquisition means the State will have to go through a process of serving notice to the land owners and the commissioner of valuations and the Ministry of Finance will complete the payment aspect. There is a process which is done by the commissioner of valuations and I cannot speak to that as it is not handled by the Ministry of Works.”
Cabinet approves $321 million for project Cabinet’s approval for the entire project which includes consultant fees, land acquisition, contractors fees, and ancillary works stands at $321 million. Sinanan said, however, the contractors’ fees totalled $221 million.
“The overall figure is down by almost $200 million from the previous estimate,” he boasted.
A valuation official from the Ministry of Finance explained that the price to be paid to affected homeowners and businessmen would depend solely on comparable sales in the area.
He said “We therefore will be able to use this as evidence to do the valuation of the subject property.” The senior public servant said “The first thing you must have is evidence of value of similar properties. If you don’t have that, you won’t get anywhere.”
He claimed the Valuation Division would have completed careful calculations prior to negotiating with affected property owners.
Officials at the National Infrastructure Development Company Limited (Nidco), which is the executing agency, confirmed that negotiations are “ongoing with the claimants and their representatives.”
They said there was no established dollar value per square footage. Nidco was unwilling to divulge any further information.
The contractors Nidco has been named as the executing agency, while Planning Associates Limited has been selected as the project engineer.
The team of contractors involved include the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), PCS, and CHASE Engineering. CRCC won the contract for the Arima Hospital which is being built at a cost of $1.2 billion. They also constructed the Scarborough General Hospital, Tobago.