There was a Carnival-like atmosphere at the Dunlop Roundabout in Point Fortin yesterday as chutney singer Edward Ramdass transformed a pro-highway demonstration into a chutney show on the first day of the new school term.
Scores of people who were caught up in rush hour traffic honked horns in support of Ramdass as he stood at the roadside belting out his 2013 chutney hit “Highway, we want it” in support of the extension of the $7.2 billion highway from San Fernando to Point Fortin.
From 5 am, busloads of demonstrators arrived at the roundabout from Cedros, Icacos, Fullerton and Point Fortin. They eventually set up and began calls to the government for the start of actual construction from the Point Fortin end of the project.
With oilwells already being capped in Point Fortin to start construction of the new highway, residents called for an acceleration of those works.
Ramdass, who lives in Point Fortin, said he penned the song in November while activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh, who heads the Highway Re-route Movement, was on hunger strike protesting the Debe to Mon Desir leg of the highway.
The Highway Re-route Movement has also taken the Government to court on the issue.
Ramdass, however, said people were waiting on the highway for over 50 years and it should be completed in the interest of those who wanted it as well.
Councillor for Cedros, Fitzroy Beache, who led the demonstrators, said it was time the Government stopped the works at Debe and start activity in Point Fortin.
“We want to see the highway begin from this side. The people from the peninsula are suffering for too long,” Beache said, as hundreds of residents marched in a circle at the round-a-bout.
He said protesting on the first day of school was a strategic move, but added they were considerate to others by not blocking the roadway.
Noting that whenever he has to go to Port-of-Spain he has to leave Cedros at 5 am, Beache said: “Some people who live at Icacos have to get up at 3 am to go to Port-of-Spain. It is not right. We support the Government and
we want the contractor to begin works in Point Fortin as soon as possible. Let other people feel how we feel when we have to face the traffic on mornings to go to Port-of- Spain.”
The Cedros councillor said he did not fear any political backlash from his own party.
“If I have to face political punishment then so be it. I have been quiet for too long. (Wayne) Kublalsingh make his protest in Port-of-Spain and I did not say anything. It is time for the people of the peninsula to show how much they want the highway,” Beache said.
Also speaking on behalf of the demonstrators, Chatham businessman Rikki Undheim said it was difficult to get goods for his mini-mart.
“We have to wait for supplies to come. Many of the suppliers say it is difficult to come to Chatham because of the traffic on the (Mosquito) creek. We have been overlooked for too long and we want the highway to start,” Undheim said.
In an earlier interview, Minister of Works Emmanuel George said oil wells are already being capped to begin the highway from Point Fortin. Petrotrin officials received $50 million from the National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO) to cap the wells so actual construction can begin in the next few months.