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What is the real plan for Invaders Bay?

Thursday, September 29 2011

Today I wish to discuss the Request for Proposals (RFP) put out by the Ministry of Planning and the Economy for Invaders Bay, Port-of-Spain, for high quality architectural and conceptual designs, financing and construction, including green technology, in order to prepare for the impacts of climate change. Six weeks were given for preparation of submission, with a deadline date of October 4, 2011.

The RFP states the Invaders Bay site is south of MovieTowne, and consists of 28 ha (70 acres) in area, and is located about 1.6km from the downtown area of the city and across from the Hasely Crawford Stadium and Jean Pierre Sports Complex.

The RFP seeks to assure readers that “the Government recognises the value of long-term planning as well as problems created when long-term planning is ignored.”

Yet, the said document makes no reference to the several (at least four) earlier planning studies done for the area, in order to assist interested firms.

The latest is a Port-of-Spain Waterfront Development Plan, which includes the area, completed for the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) in as recent as April this year. I have not seen that document.

In 2009-10, development plans were done by consultants working for the Port-of-Spain City Corporation and paid for by the Ministry of Local Government. That document, as well as all others done for the ministry, is available on its website.

This is what that plan says with respect to Invaders Bay, “Goals: (a) Build as many residential units as possible on this piece of land, (b) It is the only immediately available land of significance within the Port-of-Spain City Corporation, and (c) Incorporate in the planning strategy the possibility of an ecological and nature-friendly environment.

“Present situation: Invaders Bay is land reclaimed by the deposition of material dredged from the harbour. It has a surface of 30 ha … There is good accessibility from the Audrey Jeffers Highway as well as from Ariapita Avenue.

“In the Urban Master Plan for Port-of-Spain part of this area is proposed as an ecological site. In the Waterfront Masterplan the proposal includes commercial development, such as offices, conference buildings and a hotel.

“Plan: with 80 dwelling units per hectare, this area can provide space for 2,400 dwelling units along with essential facilities such as a supermarket and two schools.”

Therefore, what exactly is the context within which this RFP in being evaluated?

The People’s Partnership Manifesto of 2010 states “all development would take place in the context of a land use and physical planning framework and that sustainable development principles will apply. There will be order and purpose in development strategy and execution.”

So, what is the land use and physical planning framework for Invaders Bay?

The RFP goes on to state, “The MovieTowne component of the site already developed includes a wide variety of recreational, entertainment and commercial facilities. Development of this southern site must be complimentary (sic) to this existing development while bringing value in money, cultural enhancement and social interaction to the area.”

It therefore seems the “hinge” for development is based on the MovieTowne model. Is that acceptable to the wider society?

With whom has that been discussed? In fact, has there been any public involvement concerning this project?

Next, the RFP adds: “Proposals will be scored using the ‘Invaders Bay Development Matrix and Criteria Description’.” The matrix and criteria for evaluation were not given, so it is difficult to appreciate where weights lie in the assessment of submissions.

At this time, what is the most troubling to me is when I was sent a copy of a newspaper article which appeared on July 7, 2011 (appearing just a few weeks before the RFP).

The title is “MovieTowne’s Derek Chin to open T&T to the world: An entertainment mecca.”

It quotes Derek Chin, chairman of MovieTowne, “I have been lobbying the Government for a year now, even before the elections. I sent in the preliminary sketches about the concept; I met 19 Cabinet ministers over the last six months. The next minister I am meeting is Bhoe Tewarie, Minister of Planning. He wants to see me. I also met with Jearlean John, Udecott chairman. She also loves it, but that was three to four months ago.

“So I continue to develop in terms of the architecture, the financial aspect, providing the proper models, so it reaches a stage when I make a formal presentation, it will be in a completed form. Up to when I met the ministers a few months ago, I was still developing the plan … I have spent about $2.5 million so far in getting the plans alone without any commitment from anybody. So talk about risks. This is what the country needs… I would like to get the Government’s approval this year.”

I sincerely hope the reporter interpreted the information wrong.

The PP Manifesto also states, with respect to procurement, that the Government will “establish equitable arrangements for an efficient procurement system ensuring transparency and accountability by all government departments and state enterprises.”

This is beginning to remind me of the Rapid Rail… More later.

e-mail: info@ccost.org

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