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They can’t stop the highway—Nidco
As the Highway Re-route Movement initiated court action against the Government yesterday, chairman of the National Infrastructure Development Company’s (Nidco) Dr Carson Charles says activists will never succeed in stopping the $7.2 billion project. Speaking to reporters after opening a play park at Bakal Recreation Ground at Gopie Trace, Penal, yesterday, Charles said more than 100 residents have already applied to Government for acquisition of their land.
Several villagers who attended the event said they were wiling to relocate to facilitate progress. Charles also said he stands ready to provide a detailed cost benefit analysis of the Debe/Mon Desir segment, which is the source of contention for the movement.
Insisting that the segment will cost $2.1 billion, Charles challenged activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh to state how he arrived at a $4 billion price tag for the contentious highway phase. “Is Kublalsingh an engineer? Where did he get this price of $4 billion? Every time I give a figure, he says it is more. I am prepared to give the entire country a breakdown of the figures. I don’t have to guess it. If I want to know the cost of something I call the contractor who calls the consulting engineer and he has the actual figures. The estimate is $2.1 billion,” Charles said.
He added that the people of the south-west peninsula deserved to have an access route out of their rural towns. “Why can’t we spend the money here on people who have been neglected for years? We have a signed contract and they could do what they want. It is a democratic country, they cannot stop the highway,” Charles said.
He boasted that international engineers were hired to execute the project, part of which will be built on “sapatah clay” which expands when water soaked. Charles further stated that residents were in support of the highway. “If the people didn’t want the highway they will not make provisions for their lands to be acquired. Yet we have already over 100 people submitting proposals for us to acquire their lands at good market prices. We know that people have to be properly compensated,” he said.
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