The owners of some 150 parcels of land and/or houses at Argyle are yet to be paid for their property acquired more than six years ago for the construction of the Argyle International Airport.
This information was revealed in Parliament this month, as Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves responded to a question from Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace about how many landowners at the Argyle airport site are yet to be compensated for their land and how much money is owed to such persons.
The EC$700 million international airport, the nation’s first, is expected to be “substantially complete” by Wednesday — Dec. 31, 2014 — and operational by mid-2015.
Gonsalves said 143 built properties (houses) were purchased and demolished and 452 vacant parcels of land were acquired by the state-owned International Airport Development Company (IADC).
The total estimated cost of the 143 built properties was EC$61.8 million, and the total estimated cost of the 452 parcels of land was EC$76.5 million, taking the total cost of acquiring the site to EC$138.3 million.
Of the 143 built properties, 139 homeowners were paid EC$60.4 million, but four owners of built property are to be paid EC$1.5 million
“These property owners will — because this government is not a bandit — … be paid when various matters relating to the particular situations in each case are resolved,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance.
He said the process of negotiation and payment for these land parcels are continuing.
This year, the IADC paid EC$4.6 million to 22 landowners, and has paid a total of approximately EC$42 million to the owners of 259 parcels of land, Gonsalves said.
During 2014, 43 landowners negotiated and arrived at final settlement prices with the Chief Surveyor for their acquired land parcels.
The negotiated amount for these 43 landowners is approximately EC$16 million and will be paid in the first half of 2015, Gonsalves said.
He said there are 44 land parcels for which landowners have already submitted deeds to show ownership of the lands.
Negotiations with these landowners are pending and are likely to be concluded during 2015.
These additional 44 parcels are estimated to cost EC$6.4 million.
“So, in summary, the IADC is committed to pay 22.4 million for 87 parcels. Forty-three of these parcels have a negotiated total price of 16 million dollars, which I just indicated, while the other 44 parcels, though we are yet to arrive at a final settlement through the negotiations, while the chief Surveyor is still doing this, we estimate that this will cost about 6.4 million dollars,” Gonsalves told Parliament.
He, however, said there are 106 parcels of land for which the owners are yet to submit deeds to the IADC to evidence ownership.
“We are putting aside roughly 12 million dollars to cover those 106 parcels, which is the estimated cost, when, of course, the persons provide the evidence and the documentation to complete the legal transaction.
“And these are done, as always, through the office of the Chief Surveyor and with the advice of the Honourable Attorney General,” Gonsalves said.
“Mr. Speaker, I want to say this: We realise that this process is a time-consuming one and we have had to proceed by way of acquisition because if we had to proceed by way of negotiation and conclusion until everybody has sorted out all their legal difficulties, we wouldn’t have been able to get the work done at the airport,” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves said his government will pay interest of 5 per cent per annum to property owners who are yet to be paid.