Minority Leader of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Kelvon Morris says THA deputy Chief Secretary Watson Duke’s proposed $4 billion plan to transform Roxborough into a city seems to be a figment of Duke’s “very unstable imagination”.
Morris said while he welcomed the idea of accelerated development for the entire island of Tobago, he was concerned about the feasibility of Duke’s plan.
He said there were no meaningful consultations about the project, “disregarding the input of the average Tobagonians, especially the people of Roxborough”.
Duke, political leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP), and a delegation from Tobago were in New York promoting investment opportunities in Tobago.
Last week Monday, Duke detailed plans for Roxborough during the Caribbean Diaspora Investment Forum’s Invest Tobago town hall meeting, at the Brooklyn Museum, New York.
He said the $4 billion project was not just a dream but was achievable. He said it would include construction of an airport, man-made islands, luxury villas and a new marina.
He claimed in an interview the following day that 200 people attended the event, but THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine, in a social media post, indicated that there were 48 participants. Speaking to the Express on Friday, Morris said it was hypocritical of the PDP to have a character like Duke as the face of Tobago’s investment efforts internationally, when he was at the forefront of chasing away the Sandals Resort development.
“He also rejected the Marriott project at Rocky Point, and he has failed to account to the people of Tobago as to the benefits of his infamous visit to Dubai,” Morris said.
He added: “With respect to this forum, not only did it fail to attract investor interest, but it was also poorly attended and subscribed. It therefore begs the question: are Tobagonians getting value for money by the frequent flying of these THA officials, or are they simply using these trips as joy rides and an opportunity to fill their pockets?”
During his feature address at last week’s meeting, Duke called on the Tobago Diaspora to return home and help build Tobago.
“Let’s maximize our resources. There are a lot of educated people out here, there are a lot of technically-astute people out here. You need to return home and build our country. We need to put Tobago first. We need to make Tobago work,” he said.
Duke said the plan to transform Roxborough to a city has been in the making since 2015, when he became an independent candidate for Tobago in the general election.
“I said we going to build an airport in the sea and the PNM (People’s National Movement) laughed and said it was a crazy idea,” he said.
He outlined that the project would include construction of an airport/aviation and maritime institute, at a cost of US$117 million, a medical tourism complex (US$88 million), a new magistrate’s court, a civic center (US$29 million), a light manufacturing zone (US$60 million), a free trade zone (US$44 million), the Kendall Agricultural Institute with 100 acres of land for farming (US$44 million), a new boardwalk (US$7.5 million), a causeway (US$300 million), a hotel and spa (US$73 million) and a marina complex (US$73 million) and a “series” of man-made islands which would comprise water parks, restaurants, luxury villas and an ice skating rink.
“On those private islands we’re catering for people from South America and the Caribbean. We have 666 million people in South America and the Caribbean. What we want to do on those islands is to bring America down,” he said.