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TURBULENCE

TURBULENCE

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The Residents of Argyle and surrounding communities want it understood that while they are prepared to relocate to accommodate the building of the International Airport at Argyle, they will be doing so at great personal costs.

Hence, they sought the assurance of the Prime Minister that the airport will be built, so that their sacrifices will not be in vain. {{more}}

“We will have a lot of pain when the truck comes to “drogue” our things out, ” Winston Lewis, a resident of the area said.

Residents also expressed concern about the level of compensation they will receive for their properties, and the timeliness of the compensation.

The airport “will be built,” and Government will be “fair and reasonable.” These assurances came from Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves when he met with property owners on Monday.

The residents of Mt. Pleasant, Argyle and Rawacou, many of whom are retirees from the United Kingdom, filled the hall at the P’tani Resort at Argyle to overflowing. For over two and a half hours they directed questions at the Prime Minister and members of his technical team including Chief Surveyor, Adolphus Ollivierre; Chief Engineer, Jeffrey Cato; Chairman of the International Airport Development Company, IADC Dr. Rudy Matthias and Tyrone Ballah, IADC Project Coordinator.

The obviously emotional residents sought and were given assurance by the Prime Minister that they will be paid the replacement cost for their homes, and will be compensated for businesses, crops, trees, and land.

The Prime Minister revealed that the valuation will be done by a company of valuators which government had chosen after going through a “rigorous process.” The firm will begin work at the end of this month. It is estimated that the valuation of all the properties will take approximately 3 months, after which compensation to the owners will be made.

In August, when the Prime Minister first presented the Airport development road map, he outlined that the EC$83.7 million required for compensation payments would be raised by selling existing lands owned by the State.

He also revealed at that time, that in order to facilitate the immediate compensation to property owners, the Government had successfully negotiated a bridging loan of EC$20 million from the National Insurance Services (NIS).

The Prime Minister also mentioned that although no policy decision had yet been taken, he was favourably disposed to waiving the 5% tax normally paid by purchasers of land and also allowing home owners to remove special fixtures like doors, windows and toilets, even though the Government will pay them the full replacement cost of their homes.

The Prime Minister announced that the Pembroke Housing and Land Development Corporation, Murray Hadaway of Harmony Hall, Sir Vincent Beache of Spring Estate, Freddie Ollivierre of Cedars, and Victor Hadley of North Union have agreed to make tracts of land available to facilitate the resettlement process in their respective housing development areas. Chairman of the IADC, Dr. Rudy Matthias in an interview with Searchlight however stressed that residents were not obliged to take up a house lot in any of these areas.

Responding to questions, the Chief Engineer indicated that the airport runway will be oriented approximately 23 degrees east of north, with its centre line passing directly from Mc Connie Yammie Hill in Stubbs straight up to the Roman Catholic Church in Argyle.

He also said that the exact path of the new highway cannot be exactly determined until the detailed designs have been completed. However, preliminary designs show the main highway will be realigned just at the point of Colonel Anderson’s house, running along the landside of the airport and going towards the terminal building (between the runway and the mountain) and linking back with the old highway just at the Peruvian Vale School.

The Chief Engineer also agreed that outside of the boundary of the development, there may be persons who might be affected by the blasting. These persons, he said, may have to be relocated based on the results of tests of the underlying rock in the area.

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