Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Meeting with Highway Re-Route movement sub-judice: Works Minister

The Minister of Works issued a statement Saturday pointing out that it cannot meet with representatives of the Highway Re-Route Movement because the group has taken the matter to court making it inadvisable to hold such a meeting.

"The matter is therefore now sub judice, and in that regard, any meeting between the government and the Group would be inadvisable if not inappropriate," Works Minister Emmanuel George said in the media release.

He added, "The Group has sought recourse and can seek redress from the Court for any of its grievances as is its right. For its part the Government is committed to the rule of law, and is prepared to let the Court deal with and determine these matters."

The group's leader, Wayne Kublalsingh, is on a hunger strike outside the Prime Minister's private residence in South Trinidad that began on Thursday morning. He is refusing to eat or drink anything.

He wants the PM to contact him. He told supporters Saturday, "It is up to you to put pressure on the Prime Minister and if she refuses take up your bed and revolt. Kublalsingh has pledged to remain "sitting, watching, praying and fasting unrelentlessly until the Prime Minister does something about the issue".

The group isn planning to set up a camp Monday in front of the Prime Minister's Office in St Clair.

In his statement, George gave a background to the impasses between the government and the movement, pointing out that the Government has provided every opportunity to the Highway Re-Route Movement group and Kublalsingh to present their objections and concerns regarding the extension of the Solomon Hochoy Highway to Point Fortin. 

He said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and his predecessor, Jack Warner and other ministers met with Kublalsingh and his group on 16th March 2012 following which the PM gave the assurance that the Debe to Mon Desir portion of the highway would be put on hold until the technical investigations were concluded and the opinions of the movement considered. 

On April 18 Warner and a team from the Ministry along with members of the Environmental Management Agency and NIDCO met with Kublalsingh and members of the group at which they were given an opportunity to be part of the technical discussion.

The minister said on June 18 presentations and a formal report were made to them identifying how the highway development would consider all areas of concern that they had raised.

"The Highway Re-route Movement rejected the presentations made, and continued to block portions of the highway where works had begun," the minister stated.

George added, "They were advised that actions which prevented the contractors from doing their work would cost the country millions of dollars, and given that all their concerns were taken into account and adjustments made to modify the plans and minimize any impact on communities, the project needed to proceed.

"It was underscored that the project will connect the highway to the major communities of Golconda, Debe, Penal, San Francique, Siparia, Fyzabad, Mon Desir, La Brea, Pt. Fortin and San Fernando bringing business and major development to these areas."

The minister stated that the government has met all obligations regarding discussions, technical analyses and adjustments to the extension of the Solomon Hochoy Highway and expressed his regret that the movement remained "undeterred despite the meetings, discussions and compromises made pursuant to their demands". 

He added, "While it is the Government’s philosophy to always allow open discussion and interaction to take place with all stakeholders in the society, there comes a time after this process has occurred, and all views taken into consideration, that decisions must be made and action taken for the good of the country."

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai