Last update: 08-Dec-2013 4:55 am
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Roberts: Sporting centre moving full steam ahead
Sport Minister Anil Roberts yesterday insisted that a regional sporting centre at the Eddie Hart Savannah in Tacarigua was moving full steam ahead. His statement contradicts the position of his Cabinet colleague, Prakash Ramadhar, who issued a statement on Wednesday stating that the project was temporarily halted to allow for further consultation with the residents. According to Ramadhar, the matter was scheduled for discussion at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, but Roberts said he could not disclose matters discussed at Cabinet. The divergent views came even as the three local government candidates vying for the votes of the residents in the October 21 polls—the Congress of the People Ria Boodoo; the Movement for Social Justice Peter Burke; and the Independent Liberal Party Aneela Choon—vow to stand by the opposing residents to stop the project.
Their commitment was made during a public forum, hosted by the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies on Wednesday night at the Charis World Christian Academy, located opposite the savannah. Opposition MP Colm Imbert represented the views of the People’s National Movement, and he, too, shared the residents concern for more consultation before the tractors move in.
Imbert urged the residents to demand an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project as a Certificate of Environmental Clearance had already been done. He said an EIA would allow the residents to have consultation. Responding to his detractors that he should not have attended the meeting, Imbert said for 20 years he was a St Augustine resident and also attended the University of the West Indies. Roberts, in a telephone interview yesterday, said the project had not stopped. Regarding the issue of Shanghai Construction Company constructing the project, Roberts said the project comprised of an aquatic centre, tennis centre and a velodrome and the Chinese company won a tender for part of the project, which was the tennis centre. “They won that a year ago, those facilities are 30 per cent complete,” he said. He disagreed with residents, saying the project will enhance the savannah and not take away the green space.
Roberts questioned why Imbert attended the forum. “How could there be a consultation and debate on the Orange Grove Savannah development, without an invitation given to the Minister of Sport, the Ministry of Sport, the chairman of the Sportt, the directors or any of the contractors who bid, none of us were invited to any consultations.” One of the complaints by the residents was that there were no consultations, but Roberts said consultations have been ongoing for the last three years. “If they want consultations to continue, that is no problem, not only will I be available, the entire Sportt, the designers, any and everybody who could provide information, we would be more than willing to share it,” he said. Heavy machinery was moved away from site on Wednesday and Thursday. Boodoo argued that the new sporting centre would take away natural drainage in the area and criticised the lack of consultation among the affected residents. Burke said that the centre should be constructed at the site of the abandoned Pan Trinbago headquarters, off the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway, in Trincity, away from the residential area. Choon also said the centre should be constructed outside of the grounds.
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