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After agreement between Govt and JCC, highway work at Mon Desir still on

Wednesday, December 5, 2012
A foreman signals a backhoe driver to stop work in the Monteil Trace, Fyzabad section of the Point Fortin Highway on seeing the T&T Guardian team in the area on Wednesday afternoon. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA

Work on the contentious Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Golconda to Point Fortin Highway continues despite an agreement between Government and the Joint Consultative Council (JCC) and other groups that all work should stop for 60 days.


On Monday, the JCC was given a mandate to review all documents provided by the National Infrastructural Development Company (Nidco) and produce a report within two months.


A condition of the agreement was work on that section of the highway should stop. The meeting was aimed at resolving the impasse between the Government and the Highway Re-route Movement headed by hunger-striker Dr Wayne Kublalsingh.


However, at around 2.30 pm yesterday, when the T&T Guardian visited Monteil Trace, Fyzabad—on the way to Mon Desir—several excavators and bulldozers were clearing the land, while heavy-duty trucks were seen transporting equipment to the site.


As the media crew neared the construction site, one workman ordered us not to step onto the worksite, saying the media were bent on bringing a halt to the highway construction.



Minutes later, the annoyed workman made a phone call as he walked over to the excavators and all work stopped.


At Berridge Trace, Mon Desir, the proposed site of the Fyzabad interchange, OAS contractors were at work between 1 pm and 2 pm yesterday. Officials at the site declined to speak on the issue.


Monteil Trace resident Manda Sharma, whose home is next to the construction site, said when she inquired why work was still taking place, the workmen told her they were given permission to keep working.


Sharma said she listened to the news on Monday night and was surprised on Tuesday morning when she saw contractors working on the site.


She said she did not want to move as it would disrupt the lives of her family, especially her children.


At Berridge Trace, where contractors diverted traffic onto an oilsand-paved road, residents were concerned instead about how soon they would be paid for their properties so they could move.


Amarnath Ramsoondarsingh said people had been waiting for the highway for a long time and it would benefit everyone in the community. He said stopping the work would only delay a project which should have been completed many years ago.


But the continuing works seemingly contradict the outcome of Government’s meeting with civil society groups.


Contacted for an explanation yesterday afternoon, corporate communications manager at the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure Tiffany Richards said the document signed by civil society group leaders and government officials stated: “Works will continue on sites of the highway released to the contractor.”


Works and Infrastructure Minister Emannuel George and Nidco president Dr Carson Charles could not be reached for comment yesterday.