The Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) has stopped works which were illegally being done by Landscape Designs, the tenant of the Arboretum, at Covigne Road in Tucker Valley, Chaguaramas.
The CDA yesterday ordered Landscape Designs to remove an excavator, a grader and a roller from the site. The CDA has also launched an investigation into the matter, which is continuing.
In a twist to the story, however, Landscape Designs yesterday would not say it if will comply with the CDA demand but noted that the works had been stopped.
The company issued a press release saying it was taking on the responsibility of the CDA by repairing the roadway to the seven-acre eco-friendly site so the people of T&T can enjoy the “beauty and protection” of this natural environment.
It said works on the site began on October 8 and are due to end on October 22. It added that the road had been graded for water removal and only accumulated silt and scrub vegetation was removed and that two areas along the road were also cleared of vegetation to allow the runoff of water.
“We are repairing the existing roadway by engaging professional road-building contractors. They determined the need for drainage on the road verges, which hadn’t been maintained, leading to water ponding/pooling and undermining the foundation of the road surface,” Arboretum Management said in the statement.
“All clearing is for drainage by graded surfaces and creating spaces for heading off water from the road to open land. No hardwood trees, only scrub vegetation has been removed.
In March, Landscape Designs said it posted a petition online titled Tucker Valley Arboretum needs a road, which was supported by 152 people. One supporter commented then: “Whenever I travel to Trinidad, I love to visit the Arboretum. The roads there are so bad though that my friends will often forgo the trip to the Arboretum.”
Landscape Designs said it hopes to enlist the support of the Chaguaramas Development Authority and the constituents of T&T to continue the work.
Environmentalists such as Papa Bois Conservation director Stephen Broadbridge are often in conflict with the CDA and its tenants over development going on in the region. In the past, there have been proposals for an 18-hole golf course, luxury hotels and housing in Tucker Valley.
Broadbridge had notified Guardian Media about the latest illegal development through a Facebook post. He said he doesn’t believe the CDA didn’t know about the roadworks which were underway for one week. “The CDA needs to remind themselves that it is only the custodian of lands inside Chaguaramas. They must take responsibility and act transparently. The people of Trinidad and Tobago are the owners of Chaguaramas,” Broadbridge said.
The CDA said two months ago that it was sending 68 workers home to reduce its $88 million debt.
The People’s Partnership government was found to have extended illegal leases to tenants but these were, for the most part, regularised by the current PNM administration.