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Government starts land acquisition for Curepe overpass

Published: 
Sunday, January 14, 2018

Government has started the compulsory acquisition of land for construction of the $221 million overpass and ancillary roads at the intersection of the Southern Main Road and the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway.

Twenty-two properties, including the old Kay Donna Drive-in Cinema, part owned by Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan, have been earmarked for acquisition.

Letters have already been sent out to the land/business owners for acquisition.

The total settlement value is yet to be determined but can run into millions of dollars. Sinanan confirmed this to the Sunday Guardian.

Asked what was the area of land to be acquired, Sinanan could not say but assured that it would not be as elaborate as the interchange at the Grand Bazaar.

Sinanan, a shareholder of the Kay Donna Drive-In Cinema, who said it was true that he has interest in the land, promised to recuse himself from the land acquisition process.

Asked if he owned or had any financial interest in the condos at the front of the Kay Donna property, Farah’s Court, Sinanan said “No,” but added that there will be no favour in settlement with regards to the Kay Donna property.

“I do have an interest in Kay Donna as a shareholder but that matter was dealt with before. The settlement for me would have no favour as the Ministry of Works does not deal with settlements... it would be with the Finance Ministry and it would be a fair valuation process for all,” Sinanan said.

Sinanan disclosed that the acquisition process began some time before November last year and is being done by the Valuation Department in the Ministry of Finance.

“There is a process and they are the ones who determine the value keeping with the present- day value,” Sinanan said.

The acquisition letter

The letter sent to land/business owners in Curepe states: Compulsory acquisition of land by the Ministry of Works and Transport for the construction of an overpass and ancillary roads at the Intersection of the Southern Main Road and the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway.

It reads: “In accordance with Section 3 of the Land Acquisition Act, Chap. 58:01(the Act), a Notice of Intended Acquisition was published as Legal Notice 181 dated 26th August, 2013 in the Trinidad and Tobago Gazette Legal Supplement Part B in Volume 52 Number 114 on the 4th September, 2013.

“Under Section 4 of the Act, a Legal Notice No 137 dated 7th November, 2017 was published in the Trinidad and Tobago Gazette Legal Supplement Part B, on the 10th November, 2017, in which is attached.

“This Notice gives the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works and Transport or her Agents, the authority to enter upon your property for the purpose of constructing an overpass. The area to be acquired comprises (the amount of metres), more or less.”

According to the letter, “It should be noted that Section 22 of the Act provides for a land owner to present a request for an advance payment regarding compensation in respect of lands to be acquired once possession of the land has taken place under Section 4.”

The advance payment, according to the letter, should not exceed 80 per cent of the agreed value.

The contract

Of the five companies which tendered for the project, one of the Chinese firms—China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) was awarded the $221.7 million contract by the National infrastructure Development Company (Nidco).

Fresh tenders went out on March 27, 2017 and closed on June 7, 2017.

Sinanan said that he expected nothing less than “value for money” and boasted about the savings incurred as that same project had been tendered out at over $400 million under the People’s Partnership administration.

In June 2015, then opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley had raised concerns about the $400 million Curepe project and called for it to be stopped after Nidco jointly awarded Lutchmesingh Transport Company and Vinci Construction the contract.

“We have serious competitive bidding now and the $221 million is what was tendered out, the public tender price saving over $150 million,” Sinanan said.

Construction is expected to start later this year. Once construction is started, the project, which is a design-build package according to Sinanan, is expected to be completed in 18 months.

About the overpass

• Work on the overpass will start from the Southern Main Road and go all the way to the bustling intersection of the CRH.

• At the intersection, two loops will be built for motorists to get onto the west and east lanes of the highway.

• The traffic lights at the CRH intersection will be removed to allow vehicles a free flow onto the four lanes that will be constructed.

VALUE OF LAND AND PROPERTIES (RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL) AT VALSAYN NORTH, SOUTH AND WEST

Registered Real Estate Broker of TTPropertySearch Colin Ghouralal confirmed that the Valsayn South, North and Spring Vale areas are considered as high profile residential areas.

He said that residential plots, per sq ft, in the Valsayn North area are pricey.

“The prices there can range from $300 to $350/sq ft and the area span from 20,000 to 25,000 sq ft, according to open market value.

“In the western side of Valsayn known as the Springvale area, the prices are a bit lower from about $200 to $250/sq ft and plots there are about 10,000 to 15,000 sq ft. At the Valsayn South area is about the same $200 to $250/sq ft,” Ghouralal said.

Asked the value of land in a .5 km radius from the traffic light, Ghouralal said, “very pricey…as much as $400 to $450 sq ft—that includes from Kay Donna in the south of the highway to the gas station area to the south of the highway.”

Prices for residential properties, according to the Open Market valuation, Ghouralal said, ranges from $10 million to $30 million in the Valsayn North area; Valsayn West from $5 million to $12 million and Valsayn South from $5 million to $12 million.

Commercial properties, he said, “not less than $6 million and that price can go up to $15 million, maybe beyond, it depends, once within that half kilo radius.”

BENEFITS OF THE OVERPASS ONCE COMPLETED

ACCORDING TO THE MINISTRY:

n Reduce traffic congestion
n Increase capacity on Churchill-Roosevelt Highway
n Improve access to/from adjacent communities
n Improve pedestrian accessibility and safety
n Reduce pollution
n Reduction in road user cost
n Reduced fuel consumption
n Reduction in emissions which results in reduction in pollution due to reduced idle times at intersections and traffic
n Ultimately, it will improve the lives of citizens