Last update: 11-Dec-2013 6:16 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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HRM responds to Kamla's appeal: No Retreat Madam PM
Dr Wayne Kublalsingh says the Highway Re-route Movement (HRM) will not change its mind about preventing the Debe to Mon Desir leg of the Solomon Hochoy Highway from being constructed, despite fresh appeals from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for them to reconsider. Speaking via telephone yesterday, Kublalsingh said Persad-Bissessar was clearly conflicted about whom to please in the ongoing controversy over the highway extension. He said she had to choose between making the right decision based on scientific evidence versus the promise of “lucrative contracts” for those with a “vested interest” in the highway’s construction. “That’s the conflict in her mind,” he said. On Friday, Persad-Bissessar opened the first leg of the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway in Golconda and called on those opposed to the construction of the second phase, from Debe to Mon Desir, to reconsider for the greater good of the country.
Speaking near the Golconda Interchange, she 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 on to the SS Erin Road in Debe will create some distress. When asked yesterday about Persad-Bissessar’s assertion that the highway was for the “greater good,” Kublalsingh rejected this, saying there was no way the HRM would concede to such a call for something that was clearly bogus. “We could never do that. We could never accept bogus development,” he said. He listed what the PM needed to do in order to understand the severity of the proposed Debe to Mon Desir leg. He said Persad-Bissessar also needed to meet with the residents so she could “acquaint herself with the reality” of what was happening. “She seems unable to properly interpret what’s happening on the ground,” Kublalsingh said. “She never earnestly considered the alternative route for Debe to Mon Desir...as suggested in the Armstrong Report and advocated by the people since 2005.”
On Friday, Persad-Bissessar also made a point that detractors should put away selfish desires and that most of the travelling public wanted the highway to continue. When asked to address the assertion that many people supported the highway, Kublalsingh said a judge now needs to decide that. “We are saying it’s tremendously destructive, she is saying it’s good for us...the State still has to prove the viability of that leg of the highway,” he said. Kublalsingh was also emphatic that Persad-Bissessar had not in fact, up to this point, read the report and its findings.
“She hasn’t read it,” he said, adding if she had she would see that the highway could not proceed until a number of studies were done and “until a number of illegalities by the State were rectified.” Kublalsingh also reiterated that the PM needed to keep her promise to them that she would abide by the decision of the court. “As an officer of the court, she needs to clearly understand that this matter is before the court and she did promise, in a public statement, to abide by the decision of the courts.”
He said he intended to continue his protest outside her office during the week from 9.30 am to 4 pm, and Persad-Bissessar could feel free to visit him during those hours. “She could meet me any time at these hours if she is genuinely interested in a meeting of minds on the matter,” he said. Kublalsingh has been camping outside the Office of the Prime Minister in protest against the National Infrastructure and Development’s Corporation’s recent announcement that it planned to go ahead with the Debe to Mon Desir leg of the highway although the matter was before the court. However, no work has actually started since Kublalsingh began his latest protest action.
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