Last update: 09-Dec-2013 1:43 am
Monday, December 09, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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PM begs Re-route body to reconsider stance on highway
As Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar opened the first leg of the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway yesterday, she called on those opposed to its construction to reconsider for the greater good. Speaking near the Golconda Interchange, Persad-Bissessar said now that the Golconda to Debe leg had been opened, the controversial Debe to Mon Desir leg must be built, as traffic merging from the highway onto the SS Erin Road in Debe would create some distress.
Her statement came just two days after the Highway Reroute Movement’s attorney, Ramesh Maharaj, said he was confident the disputed leg would not be built or, barring this, that they would be successful if they sought an injunction to stop the disputed Debe to Mon Desir leg. Yesterday, however, Persad-Bissessar called on detractors to put away selfish desires, saying most of the travelling public wanted the highway to continue.
“I know the people of this area and those from other areas and all of the travelling public want this highway,” Persad-Bissessar said. “I have a concern. It is easy from here to Debe, but what happens when we get to Debe now? As we can’t up the speed of the highway, we are going to have a bottleneck at Debe. “We need to build the Debe to Mon Desir leg of the highway and when we finish the Mon Desir leg, we need to build the other phases.”
She added, “While we consider and give respect to the rights of individual citizens, at times we have to stop and pause and think for the greater good of the thousands who will benefit.” Persad-Bissessar, who lives along the SS Erin Road, said she knows the frustrations of travelling to Penal and Debe.
With the opening of yesterday’s phase of the highway, she said it will take only five minutes from Golconda to Debe as opposed to 45 minutes on the SS Erin Road. “I know the frustrations of getting to Debe from Golconda. When this highway is completed, it will be so much easier to reach Point Fortin, to reach Cedros, to reach Icacos in the shortest possible time.
“We know this in the South, that when you get off the highway, if you have to go through the normal route, you will take 45 minutes to an hour to get from the end of the highway to Debe in the traffic hours. Now, without speeding, it is five minutes from here to Debe.” Among the benefits she listed were shorter travelling time and increased business for South Trinidad.
President of the National Infrastructural Development Company, Dr Carson Charles, said the first leg of the highway cost $126.3 million and promised the entire project would stay within the $7.5 billion budget. While Edward Moodie and his Debe to Mon Desir Highway Action Committee said they have been calling for a meeting with Nidco, Charles said his company was open to dialogue.
Charles said, “To all our detractors, those who are afraid of progress, those who get scared when they see change is taking place, I say to them, be not afraid of the coming of the modern age in your neighbourhood. “Do not protest needlessly, Nidco is willing to listen to you, to have dialogue with you, to negotiate with you, to come to agreement with you.”
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