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Contractor takes away tools but protesters stay
Brazilian road builders Constructora OAS Ltd removed its excavators and tractors from the San Francique area yesterday, halting construction of the Siparia Interchange which is one of the links in the $7.1 billion San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway. However, protesters, including residents opposed to the highway, are continuing to keep their vigil on the site, after learning that OAS is expected to move to another location in their area.
Spokesman for the Highway Re-route Movement Dr Wayne Kublalsingh said the excavators were removed on Thursday, hours after residents broke down an OAS tent and drove the excavators off the land, using a master key. Kublalsingh said OAS was attempting to move full speed ahead with the Debe to Mon Desir segment, even though the Government was yet to finalise negotiations with residents over compensation and relocation.
“The Government should act more responsibly, because the OAS engineers are going into areas where the State has not finished its business. They are supposed to give the people adequate notice. Residents must accept compensation packages before any grading could take place,” Kublalsingh said.
He said OAS and the State were operating in an unco-ordinated manner. “They are putting more people in distress. OAS wants to move in and grade even before the State has finished dealing with the issues of the people,” Kublalsingh said. In a notice issued to residents, OAS officials said construction of the proposed Siparia Interchange, which links Mon Desir to Siparia, will begin on November 1. Construction was expected to proceed between 7 am and 6 pm Mondays to Saturdays.
The company said traffic-management plans have been devised to facilitate the project. The company, which was hired by the Government to build the highway extension, said it will be done in two phases. More than 33 kilometres of highway will be built from Golconda to the Dunlop Roundabout near Point Fortin, including a Mon Desir interchange.
There will also be widening and reconstruction of 12 kilometres of highway from Dumfries Road to Mon Desir. The company said the highway will bring improved safety, connectivity and development to the rural areas, but residents are opposed to the project, claiming it will cause flooding.
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