Last update: 11-Dec-2013 6:16 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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HRM members plan to block bulldozers
Members of the Highway Re-route Movement are planning to form a human barricades in front of bulldozers and other heavy equipment as they accelerate efforts to stop work on the Debe to Mon Desir leg of Point Fortin highway. However, Housing and Urban Development Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal has warned that the group could be found in contempt of court if they continue their protests. Tensions have been escalating at the disputed site over the past few days after reports that work is set to resume on the highway extension. Over the weekend, HRM members converged on an Construtora OAS site office on the Mon Desir Road and threatened to form a human barricade in front of bulldozers if worker attempted to enter the disputed are. “I am old already, I ready to die,” resident Mohan Baney told security officials at the OAS site after giving them an earful about the problems he and other residents faced as a result of the highway construction.
Baney said while they support construction of the highway, the disputed segment is unnecessary. HRM leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh said the group will remain at the camp to ensure that no progress is made on the disputed segment. “What we have here is action on the ground...There is a vigil in Port-of-Spain and we established a vigil to monitor activities here at the Debe to Mon Desir leg, specifically the Mon Desir Interchange. The people have decided to move. They spoke passionately and quite vehemently, explaining their own interest to the security here at the OAS camp,” he said. "They basically told the workers here that they are not going to allow them to move the tractors to go onto the lands and that is their position.” Asked how they planned to stop the work, Kublalsingh said: “It is up to the people but I believe they have threatened to for a human chain in front of the tractors and we will see how they work.”
Kublalsingh repeated his call to the Government to abide by the Armstrong report. Moonilal warned that the HRM could be risking contempt charges with their current activities because the matter is before the courts. On Friday, Justice James Aboud, presiding at the Hall of Justice, deferred hearing of applications made by the HRM to have the disputed leg stopped to October 18 to allow the organisation and the State more time to submit documents to the court. A related lawsuit over the construction of the $7 billion project is scheduled to be heard before the same judge on October 28. The HRM is seeking a conservatory order stopping construction of the controversial section of the highway. The group is also seeking to amend its substantive case to tender fresh evidence, including a report from a technical committee which examined the highway project.
Speaking during a walkabout in his constituency to assess urgent infrastructural work, Moonilal said the court refused to order a halt to the work, so the HRM’s protests at the work site are illegal. He said the court refused an interim order for injunctive relief meaning it refused to stop the construction. “I am hoping that Mr Kublalsingh and others will obey the decision of the court,” he said. “There is a substantive matter in the court involving that. That matter continues to be heard, but they need to have respect for the court because if he tries to stop the highway now when the court has ruled, I think he will be in contempt on court. “Proceedings could be brought against him for contempt of an order of the court so he has to be very careful about that.”
Moonilal said so far, 100,000 people have used and benefited from the highway and it would be unfair for other communities in the south-west region in Trinidad to be left out.
“The Golconda to Debe leg of the highway has opened and 100,000 people or so have passed on that road, benefited from it and they have seen the value of it and we just intend to continue,” he said.
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