Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 24th 2014 Contents A18
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, June 24, 2014
A multi-million-dollar state-of-the-art retirement
home in Penal has been scrapped because of the
$7.5 billion Solomon Hochoy Highway extension
to Point Fortin.
As a result, the Sunset Foundation of T&T had to
return the money donated by investors.
The Sunset Home project, launched in 2010, was
earmarked for construction on ten lots of land donated
by the foundation s organisers at Tulsa Trace, Penal.
The project was supposed to be the flagship project
of the foundation, a charity organisation founded by
the Mohammed family, in memory of their late matri-
arch Ogeephan Mohammed.
However, the Tulsa Trace area falls within the Debe
to Mon Desir segment of the highway which has
been the subject of strong opposition and protests
by the Dr Wayne Kublalsingh-led Highway Reroute
Foundation chairman Joe Mohammed (Ogeephan
Mohammed s son) said his committee were not aware
that the highway would pass so close to the proposed
After the dismissal of Kublalsingh s application for
a conservatory order in May, the foundation had no
choice but to shelve the project.
Mohammed believes the Armstrong Commission
recommendations were sidelined because of political
and vested interests.
Through a joint effort by the foundation members,
community and government, he said, plans were
drawn up in 2010, a builder selected, funding raised,
infrastructural work done and utilities approved.
"Some of the people had contacts in the govern-
ment and they advised us to put down the foundation,
but we did not and in retrospect we did the right
thing. It would have been a failed project," Mohammed
They could not get Town and Country Planning
approval because of the highway.
Mohammed said: "The onus was on us to prove
that the highway was not passing near the home but
we could not do that because we did not know where
the highway was passing.
"One would have thought that you have a master
development plan for the highway and you would
have known where exactly the highway passing.
"Mind you, there are powerful interest groups
tied in with this project that are literally buying
up large tracks of lands from San Fernando to Point
Fortin on both sides of the highway and they did
not want the highway (to) move from its initial
"It is unfortunate. You cannot stand in the way
of national development. We are just one person
affected amongst hundreds. But we did not lose
money, since it was given back to the generous
However, Mohammed said someone could have
told them two years ago where the highway would
"There are powerful political and vested interests
at play," he said.
Mohammed believes it will be almost
impossible to get someone to donate private
land for the project now because of the sig-
nificant increase in property value.
He said: "Ironically, what has happened
now is that the land along the route of
the highway has doubled, tripled and
quadrupled. People who were sleeping on
many acres of old land suddenly woke up
to the fact that they were sitting on mil-
lions of dollars. Nobody is going to put
an inch of land towards the project."
However, he said the committee has a
Plan B---to lobby the Government to donate
State land for the home and fully fund the
Mohammed said: "Initially we were plan-
ning to accommodate 30 to 40 residents at
the home, which was supposed to be a state-
of-the-art facility following the North Amer-
ican model, with a home away from home
"The Government has a new legislation
coming out to cover retirement homes.
They are encouraging joint partnership,
but the standards are very high, because,
as you know, some retirement homes are
almost like a death sentence.
"There is a lot of abuse taking place in
the system where the elderly are physically
and emotionally abused and are at the
mercy of the elements out there."
Mohammed thanked everyone involved
in the project for recognising the challenges
faced by the elderly and apologised for the
Highway project shelves home for aged
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