ROAD RESERVE: A parcel of land earmarked for the extension of the Diego Martin Highway. —Photo: ANISTO ALVES

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Ganesh: Full speed ahead on Diego highway

12 residents must move

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

There will be compulsory acquisition of land in the expansion of the Diego Martin Highway, Director of Highways Roger Ganesh said yesterday.

The Government will be moving full speed ahead to expand the Diego Martin highway at a cost of $60 million.

In a telephone interview with the Express, when questioned, Ganesh confirmed that some 12 people were served with letters informing them that the State will be taking compulsory acquisition of the land on which their properties are located.

Ganesh said these people have been trespassing on the road reserve for over 30 years now and have built up their properties not knowing this.

"Most of these people will have to give up their property. They are trespassing on road reserve, but this is a small amount, a drop in the bucket when compared to the Point Fortin highway," said Ganesh.

He noted that officials had met with the residents who were in the way of the Point Fortin highway and served them Section 10 letters—which state that the compensation for their property and their relocation can be negotiated.

Ganesh said Section 3 and 4 papers were given to the Diego Martin residents who are in the highway's path.

These letters indicate that there will be compulsory acquisition of the land based on an evaluation.

Ganesh said these affected people can also have their private evaluations conducted and negotiate compensation.

However, he stressed that they were occupying road reserve—which is State land.

"It's the humane thing to hold discussions with them. A lot of them bought properties from previous owners and did not know that the fence line was within the highway reserve," said Ganesh.

He said some of these people have substantial interest with respect to properties having constructed apartment buildings in the area.

Ganesh said most of these people were unaware that they were on highway reserve and he added that this was a downfall in purchasing property —searches must be conducted.

Works for the highway's expansion have already started, said Ganesh.

He said demolition, drainage works and the construction of a sound barrier wall are all under way by a number of local contractors.

He said the tender for the major roadworks will be put out by the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco).

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