Lot owners of the Central Springs Estate development in Freeport are still waiting for what they paid for after seven years of broken promises.
In 2014, Tech Contract Limited told would-be customers that if they bought land at Central Springs Estates, it would build all the infrastructure needed for land approvals within two years of purchase. The owners could then build on or sell their Town and Country and Regional Corporation-approved land.
In August of 2022, however, the land was still not ready for occupation and lot owners called Guardian Media for assistance. At that time, one of the company’s directors, Roshan Baboolal, said the infrastructural works to allow for approvals would be finished by January 2023. However, yesterday when Guardian Media visited the site along Raphael Road, work was still underway.
An official on site unlocked the gate to the community and invited us on a tour for a progress update.
The official, who asked to remain anonymous, motioned to two excavators which he said were being used in the construction of a sewer treatment plant which he estimated would be completed by May. He said following this, the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) would approve Phases One and Two of the project, which is where the lot owners’ land is located. He then told Guardian Media that the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) should do an inspection in three weeks’ time, after which the project would get that approval.
But when would all approvals be in hand? The official said he could not answer.
However, Tech Contract Limited chairman Kayam Baboolal said the new date for completion was now September 2023, seven years after the initial date given by the company.
“There’s a lot of work to be done still because of delays from the statutory bodies after COVID, up to now with T&TEC and WASA, we’re still waiting on dates for them to come and inspect, we’ve finished Phase One, Phase Two, and half of Phase 3. We are doing the sewer treatment plant right now, but unless we get their approvals for certain things, we must slow down and wait until they say they’re okay with things and we can progress,” Baboolal explained.
Baboolal said he suspects because “reorganisations” were being done by T&TEC and WASA with respect to the Regulated Industries Commission (RIC), that too is contributing to the delays on their end.
But Guardian Media told Baboolal that lot owners said they were being left in the dark with respect to progress updates. One landowner said the last report they got was when Guardian Media did a story on the delays in August 2022.
However, Baboolal said they should be getting quarterly updates via email and that any landowner can visit the site along Raphael Road and see for themselves the work being done. But he said he will follow up to ensure the updates are coming from their end.
When asked what message he had for the lot owners, who paid $300,000 per lot, Baboolal said, “I certainly understand their concerns, the only thing I can say is we can only depend on the statutory bodies giving us approvals which we’ve made applications for.”
Baboolal gave an example where prices with T&TEC were agreed to before the pandemic only for them to expire during lockdown, forcing them to have to restart the application process in December 2022.
When asked directly if all Town and Country approvals would be ready by September, which will allow lot owners to build on or sell the land, Baboolal said, “Yes, in good faith we believe so, yes.”
But lot owners are still sceptical, as they’ve heard these promises before.
“Emotionally, we are stressed out because we invested so much financially. It’s infuriating, stressful and worrisome to see the development either stall or progress very slowly over all of these years. The money we invested was significant,” one person told us anonymously.
Another said, “We definitely regret getting into business with them. The development company is a part of the Therml Impac Group. They are well known and have been around for a long time. I never would have thought we would be in this situation nine years later.”