Last update: 06-Dec-2013 8:12 am
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Protestors block bulldozer at Debe highway site
Standing side by side in scorching weather, members of the Highway Re-route Movement formed a human barricade in front of a bulldozer yesterday, bringing a premature end to work along the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin. Protestors stuck to their vow to stop all construction on the disputed leg. Workers of OAS Contructura, the Brazilian firm in charge of the project, abandoned work along the Mon Desir interchange shortly before noon.
According to the group’s leader environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh the event was a small victory in relation to having Government scrap that part of the $7.5 billion project. He said he was convinced that it would not be built. “We were here from about 7.30 am and the intention was to monitor so that no OAS bulldozers could do work on the Mon Desir interchange. “If it is that the government proceeds with the Mon Desir interchange, it means that they have intentions of building the Debe to Mon Desir highway,” Kublalsingh said.
At around 10.30 am protestors walked on to the site and formed a semi-circle, blocking a bulldozer. Another operator was allowed to continue work on the other side of Mon Desir Road, which leads to Point Fortin. Kublalsingh said: “The driver came on our side of the road where they would have cut the path and we made a semi-circle around him so the tractor was between ourselves and the road. “The driver went into the vehicle, he turned around but he couldn’t move because we cribbed him in. He switched off the motor and then he went and had discussions with the camp’s security and the whole OAS, which supports the bulldozers. They left.” Earlier, heavily armed police officers met with the construction crew but left after a while.
‘Moonilal trying to intimidate citizens’
On Saturday, Minister of Housing and Urban Development Dr Roodal Moonilal said the Highway Re-Route Movement’s action could find them in contempt of court for breaching a ruling made by Justice James Aboud at the Hall of Justice on Friday. However, Kublalsingh labelled Moonilal’s statement as fraudulent and an attempt to intimidate citizens. “Dr Moonilal is once more engaging in making fraudulent statements and misinformation. The court never gave an order. “The order will be given on October 18 or some time thereafter in respect of the injunction which we filed at the court. “The injunction means that they will stop all work until the substantive matter in court is decided, but the judge never gave a ruling, he simply postponed the hearing to October 18.”
Although taking legal action in court and diplomatic measures, as he is due to meet with President Anthony Carmona to discuss the group’s plight, these outcomes will not deter the body’s agenda. “Whatever we do on the site here is not against any order because the judge never gave an order, but even of he gives an order, citizens are free in this country, under the Constitution, to protest and engage in a public outcry or demonstration whenever their rights are being affected. “No judiciary can order citizens not to protest at all so what he (Moonilal) is doing is basically trying to intimidate people. Fortunately there are citizens who know the law better than he does.” Up to late yesterday the group, which constructed a camp out of bamboo and tarpaulin, remained near the interchange to monitor construction activity.
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