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Billion-dollar development for east Port-of-Spain

Sunday, December 9, 2012
Stuart Spiers, managing director Stuart Spiers Real Estate Services, left, with Mark Edghill, president Association of Real Estate Agents (Area) and Mary Jardine, executive secretary Area.

Three communities in Port-of-Spain are to benefit from an estimated $1.2 billion development project called the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI) between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of T&T, says IDB country representative Michelle Cross Fenty. But she underscored the need for the private sector to come on board as additional funding would be required to help realise this objective.


East Port-of-Spain, Belmont and Gonzales are the areas identified as part of the capital city’s new metropolis following consultations between the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development, the Port-of-Spain city Corporation and community action groups in Morvant and Laventille respectively.


Initial funding scheme:
Under the plan, the IDB will inject US$50,351,000, while the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) and the Water and Sewerage Authority will pool their resources to raise US$2,600,000. In an effort to secure the remaining US$143,545,000 the Government, together with the IDB, would merge their resources to mobilise additional funding.


Speaking at a joint media conference and cocktail reception held at the rooftop of the Carlton Savannah in Cascade on Friday, Cross Fenty said, “The implementation of the action plan is estimated to cost US$200 million. The Government of the Republic of T&T and IDB have earmarked approximately US$98 million towards plan implementation.”


Almost half of the IDB’s total financing for T&T will go to urban sector activities under the ESCI, over the next two years, she said, in areas such as urban regeneration, flood prevention and solid waste management.


Scope of projects
Activities identified for funding are captured under the area of drainage rehabilitation and flood control, and settlements regularisation and urban beautification, while improving public safety and security. The action plan, built around the implementation of three strategic and integrated interventions calls for:  
• Environment and Infrastructure–Protecting watersheds in the Chinapoo community (Morvant), environmentally sensitive areas (protected areas) and urban upgrading
• Settlements upgrading and urban beautification
• Improving public safety/security
• Better and universal mobility
• Water supply improvement
• Drainage rehabilitation and flood control
• Solid waste management
• Climate change adaptation (Emergency response and contingency fund)
• Cultural Heritage Restoration–Preservation of heritage sites
• Renovation of Fort Picton (Laventille)
• Urban upgrading and beautification
• Social and Economic Development–Empowering communities and local economic development plans scheduled for the medium and long-term years of implementation
• Engaging local businesses
• Job creation
• Training


According to the action plan’s executive summary, the ESCI provides technical expertise to Caribbean and Latin American Governments towards refining and the implementing of their urban development plans, while addressing sustainability challenges in a structured and integrated manner. As it stands, Latin American and the Caribbean constitute the region with the highest degree of urbanisation in the world.


The percentage of urban population doubled in the second half of the 20th century from 41 per cent in 1950 to over 75 per cent at present and was expected that by 2050, this percentage would increase to 89 per cent. Regionally, T&T is said to be ahead of its Caribbean neighbours, so the ESCI plan was put into effect here.


“The rapid process of urbanisation and the growing number of the megacities have resulted in a lot of inter-related ecological, economic and social problems and risk such as: Overcrowding, the growth of slums, inadequate access to basic services, the spread of diseases, rising unemployment, crime threats to human health and the environment, and increased vulnerability to natural disaster. These impacts pose challenges for urban policies and urban planning strategies to manage development in a sustainable way,” Cross Fenty said.


She said the ESCI, launched in 2011, was an attempt to help Governments avoid costly mistakes of the past and to take timely action to reduce the challenges to the sustainability of their emerging cities as a results of rapid urbanisation.
Under the ESCI, it is hoped that policymakers would have timely, up-to-date actionable intelligence to support proactive decision making that encourages more effective sustainable development resulting from rapid urbanisation.


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