...Nidco not aware of $15.3m property claim
Irene Medina Associate Editor
Dinanath Ramkissoon, vice-president of the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco), said yesterday that Nidco is unaware of a third claim being submitted for the Penal property of resident Rawlins Rambaran, who is affected by the construction of the $8 billion Golconda to Point Fortin Highway extension..
The third claim, according to documents received by the Express, reveal the same property valued at $7.1 million in 2011 was re-evaluated at $15.3 million in 2012.
According to Ramkissoon, in an e-mail to the Express, Rambaran had “made a claim for his commercial/residential property in 2011, which was amended in 2012, before Sururattan Rambachan became the Minister of Works and Infrastructure”.
Ramkissoon added that “the status of this claim is that Nidco’s independent valuers have not completed their valuations and, as such, negotiations have not yet begun to acquire this property by private treaty”.
He was responding to allegations by Jack Warner, interim political leader of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP), that there was “corruption”in the construction of the highway project”.
Speaking at the launch of the ILP’s local government elections campaign at Auzonville Park, Tunapuna on Saturday evening, Warner said he had documents to prove this.
Warner produced three copies for compensation of the same plot of land, located in Penal, which he said was first valued at $7.1 million but then jumped to $10.9 million, and by its third valuation was placed at $15.3 million.
He claimed the property was owned by Rambaran, a retired engineer from Trinidad Broadcasting Company and a “very, very close friend” of Works Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan.
“This property, which is located at LP #14 Tulsa Road, Penal, was valued by Harland Teemul, a valuator who had first been retained by the Debe to Pt Fortin Action Committee to do private valuations,” Warner claimed.
Warner alleged the valuer and Rambaran met at the “Minister’s Lange Park (sic) home some time between May 22 and 25”.
Rambachan lives at Ramsaran Park in Chaguanas.
Later, the property’s value increased “from $7.1 million in the morning to $10.9 in the evening, to a staggering $15.3 million by the next day”, Warner said.
He had valuation documents related to the property that he said were from Teemul’s company.
“I am also advised that it was agreed to backdate the valuation dates to April 15, 2012 (in two instances) and November 13, 2011 (in the final instance),” he claimed, adding he had copies of the transactions.
The first valuation dated November 13, 2011 stated the land was bought five years ago. The subsequent valuations which carried the same date, April 15, 2012, stated the land was bought four years ago.
Copies of the valuation of the land were submitted to Nidco, the agency which is supervising the construction of the Golconda to Point Fortin Highway.
In his e-mail yesterday, Nidco’s spokesperson Ramkissoon said Nidco “is unaware of any alleged meeting between the Minister of Works and Infrastructure and the claimant’s valuer or any alleged deal resulting therefrom.
“In any event Nidco is confident that t he process for the acquisition of property by private treaty is not only transparent but cannot be easily subverted by persons.”
Ramkissoon said before any settlement can be arrived at, certain procedures must be undertaken.
First, he said, “Nidco obtains a valuation of the property by an independent professional valuer, following which there are negotiations with the claimant or his or her representative in which Nidco is represented by a legal consultant and an independent valuer.”
Ramkissoon said there is oversight of the process by Nidco’s internal consultant valuer.
He also made it clear that consideration of any proposed settlement (is done) by a land acquisition oversight committee comprising professional representation from several Government ministries; following which Nidco’s Tender Committee will consider and determine any recommendation by the land acquisition oversight committee before settlement is arrived at.
“Nidco wishes to reiterate that settlements made for properties along the Right of Way for the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway Extension will be done in accordance with established principles regarding the valuation of properties,” Ramkissoon added.