Planning and Sustainable Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis yesterday described as “illegal” the construction and setting up of several private businesses on the Western peninsula, some of which were preventing citizens from accessing public spaces.

Robinson-Regis also revealed that Government was now reviewing between 21 or 22 land leases which were given out by the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) in the days leading up to the 2015 general election.

She made the disclosure after touring several areas in Chaguaramas, two of which were the Five Islands Water and Fun Park and the Chaguaramas Safari Adventure, with CDA chairman Anthony Pierre and a technical team.

Pierre, in fielding questions from the media, said the CDA was currently re-examining a total of 44 leases given out under the People’s Partnership administration.

“A number of those (leases) were entered into the week leading up to the 2015 general election. A lot of those leases were dated September 4 and 5. Even the day before the election, which was September 6, which was a Sunday…those leases were dated. The leases were finalised on those days.”

Pierre averaged 21 to 22 leases were signed in the month of September alone.

Robinson-Regis spoke specifically about concerns she had about the water and fun park, which is a private development that was approved by the People’s Partnership. CDA had leased lands for the water and fun park.

One of the major concerns, she said, was no access to the beachfront at the park. 

For years, Robinson-Regis said the beach remained a public space, which is outlined in the Chaguaramas 1974 Statutory plan that was approved by Cabinet and Parliament.

“We were concerned that the access was being denied.”

Following the appointment of the CDA board last December, Robinson-Regis said she asked Pierre to talk to the park’s developer with regard to the public access. Subsequently, she said two access points were established and a board walk is being built. She admitted that the beach was still not as accessible as she would have liked, adding any development near the beachfront was supposed to remain a public space.

“Work has proceeded apace.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi
So right now it is difficult to stop it. There is no way we can tell the amusement park people to break down their structure. That makes no sense. So really speaking, the park is located in an area where according to the law, it should not be.”

Robinson-Regis said the Chaguaramas Safari Amusement, another private sector project, also did not acquire planning permission and attempts were now being made to get authorisation through her ministry. 

Pierre said the petting zoo in the safari occupies four acres of agricultural land, but they have a lease for 40 acres.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi
He said even the Chaguaramas Golf Course, which was supposed to be free and accessible to the public, was looked at as they examined some of the land leases to see if they were valid. 

“All those projects are illegal…technically because they did not fall under the CDA’s statutory plan.”

CDA manages over 14,000 acres of land in Chaguaramas.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi
Had the PP been re-elected to office, the minister said citizens would have had to pay to access the public areas she highlighted.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi
Robinson-Regis said the CDA would try monitor buildings that are in the process of being built to ensure they meet the stipulations.

Asked how Government intended to deal with further congestion on the western peninsula when the fun park opens its doors in December, Robinson-Regis said Cabinet has a fiscal infrastructure committee, chaired by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

CDA audit goes to Cabinet

The audit conducted into the operations of the CDA, which has unearthed a series of irregular transactions between 2010 to 2015, is still before Planning and Sustainable Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis.

Yesterday, Robinson-Regis said she and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young will take a note to Cabinet on the findings of the audit.

“Based on the result of the audit, the board took certain actions with regard to persons who were on staff here and so the CEO was dismissed based on the results of the audit.”

The CEO was Joycelyn Hargreaves, who has since been replaced by Michael Anatol as general manager.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi
Hargreaves’ dismissal was May 23 with immediate effect.

CDA chairman Anthony Pierre said the audit revealed that some actions were taken by certain members of staff that was not in keeping with public figures, public life and authority.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi
“A lot of decisions taken were not in the best interest of the CDA,” Pierre said.

He admitted that the PP had created a mess with the company’s organisational structure, positions and staffings, which they were now trying to fix.


© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

Tags: Isla

Con información de: The trinidad Guardian


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