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posted 27 Oct 2015, 10:44 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 27 Oct 2015, 10:59 ]
By David Walker 
(Official Spokesperson – Charlotteville Beach Front Movement)

David Walker
For three long years, Irwin Hercules, widely known as Jaba, and the Charlottesville Beach Front Movement have struggled against the Goliath that is the THA regarding the construction of a 20 million dollars Vendors Mall on the beachfront.

That struggle has been based on the unlawful eviction of the previous shopkeepers
, failure of THA to comply with planning regulations, their failure to consult with affected parties, the impact on the local environment and the refusal to follow the most basic of procurement best practice.

Despite winning every judgment in court, the group found itself castigated by the village council for their efforts. To add insult to injury, the Chief Secretary claims to have had judgment in his favour in the courts. We invite him to furnish a copy of the judgment to which he refers. He also claims to have secured a Court Order for the recent demolition of Mr Hercules’ booth. Aga
in we invite him to furnish a copy of same. I should point out that no Court Order was furnished prior to or during the demolition, thereby rendering it unlawful.

Now however, the breathtaking scale of deception from the THA has been laid bare. What is in progress is not simply the construction of a Vendors Mall. What is being undertaken is the wholesale transformation of Charlotteville with no input from villagers or other affected parties. That is of course, unless the Village Council knew about it all along and kept it from other villagers. I refer to the following statement buried deep within a supplementary document filed with the 2015/2016 Budget.
“In fiscal 2016, the THA will commence preliminary work on the construction of Tobago Industrial Port, while refurbishment of landing jetties at Studley Park, Charlotteville and at Cove and Plymouth will be undertaken. The jetty at Charlotteville will accommodate offshore break water for safe anchorage of barges. Likewise, the jetty at Charlotteville will be extended to provide better landing facilities for fishermen, cruise ship visitors and operators of pleasure craft. Funding will also be provided for the establishment of a Marine Park Control Unit at Gibson Jetty. An allocation of $7 million will be provided to undertake these projects.”

Why has this not been put into the public domain? Who participated in the decisions that are reflected here? Did the Village Council have a role to play? Have our fisherfolk had an input? And what about the associated technical, environmental and financial matters? How long will the jetty be? What will the barges be transporting? How often will they be docking? What will be the environmental impact of the breakwater, firstly during construction then when completed? Where is the Feasibility Study? Where is the Impact Analysis?

These and many other questions will have to be answered before we can be satisfied to see this development undertaken. Of immediate concern though is the secrecy with which this plan has been hatched and implemented. During these past three years, despite lack of consultation and environmental impact being high on our list of stated concerns, these plans have never been disclosed. In fact it is very clear that the THA has gone to great lengths to conceal them.

These plans have not even been itemised in the THA’s recent budget request which was presented to us. It is only because of the nature of the national budget presentation, requiring as it does, a clear listing of PSIP (Public Sector Investment Program) projects that th
e information emerged, and even then in a supplementary document that very few people would review.

We the people will not be heard unless we are prepared to take a stand. It is now clear that Mr Hercules and the Beach front Movement have done us all a great favour. Had it not been for their actions, not only the Vendors Mall but also the jetty extension and the breakwater would be already under construction today. We have the opportunity to demand a halt pending proper consultation and pro
curement procedures thanks to them. Let us not waste the hard won opportunity.

Next weekend, Oct 31 and Nov 1, Charlotteville Beach front Movement invites all and sundry to visit Charlotteville in a show of suppor
t. We must support the continued legal action by the group and Mr Hercules in particular. Make a contribution to the legal costs, knowing that the THA has unlawfully denied him his source of income. Most importantly, make a statement that you will not allow the desecration of a beautiful village through subterfuge and disregard for the rule of law by those who hold high political office.

It is time to make a stand. We can each make a difference. If you cannot make the trip but wish to assist, visit our Facebook Page (Charlotteville Beachfront Movement) or email us at either ilionjaba@gmail.com or d.walker@alcindorwalker.com.