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‘Terrible times’ ahead for Govt—Kublalsingh
Leader of the Highway Re-route Movement (HRM) and environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh is calling on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to “take charge” as the Government has signaled its intention to proceed with work on the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir section of the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway.
And he has warned there would be “terrible times” ahead for the for the People’s Partnership Government as civil society would stand up for what was wrong. Kublalsingh was responding to statements made by Minister of Works and Infrastructure Emmanuel George who yesterday maintained the report on the controversial signaled its resumption.
After a 21-day hunger strike by Kublalsingh last December, work ceased on that section of the project. An interim review committee which was set up and chaired by Independent senator Dr James Armstrong was given 60 days to examine concerns and recommendations of the HRM.
Asked again whether the Government was proceeding with the project, George said, “I think that is obvious.” The minister again insisted there was no issue with the route of the highway or its impact on the environment. Saying he was not misinterpreting the report as had been claimed, George said there were three main findings:
• The chosen route of Debe to Mon Desir is considered superior from an overall perspective.
• The HRM’s proposed route was not the preferable one as it did not provide for traffic growth in the future.
• The 2007 highway hydrology report was adequate in respect of the bridge and culvert designs for the highway crossings.
Kublalsingh, however, said it was Persad-Bissessar who sanctioned the committee and therefore needed to examine the report and must take into account what was beneficial and good for the country. Saying many long hours went into the report, Kublalsingh added, “There were many highly qualified people involved in putting together the report...It was also very scientifically done and their recommendations cannot be ignored.”
Asked what was the HRM’s next move, Kublalsingh said the “ball was now in the Prime Minister’s court.” He said his interpretation of the report was the project ought not to proceed unless the Government examined certain key factors, including environmental impact.
“This is not about Wayne Kublalsingh...it is up to the Government to stand up and do the right thing and the public has to stand up for what is right and just,” he said. “If the Government continues without addressing these significant concerns, I foresee terrible times for the future of this government.”
The report was supposed to be made public at noon yesterday but it is now expected to be officially released to the public on Monday by the JCC. However, part of the report has been available on the Internet and has also been reported by various media houses.
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