Last update: 07-Dec-2013 3:12 am
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Re-route women removed from PM’s grounds
A day of high emotion outside the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, Port-of-Spain, ended yesterday with 10 women from the Highway Re-route Movement (HRM) being physically removed from the grounds by police. The women had staged a sitdown protest outside the entrance, displaying banners that read: “The Voice of Truth Is The Voice of God”. Outside the barriers the men from the HRM carried placards aimed at the Prime Minister, urging her to “Abide By The Armstrong Report”.
When it was pointed out that Dr Roodal Moonilal was acting as Prime Minister, there were cries of: “Come Moonilal, we want to meet you” and “the government ministers are happy in their houses”. The tactic of sending women to protest was calculated, male police could not physically remove them, which meant there was a delay before enough female officers were gathered to do the job.
The group’s leader, environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh gave a brief statement afterwards, saying he did not want to steal the show from the women’s protest by talking too much. “This day belongs to the women and the women are standing up for their families, their lands, their peoples and their communities and they are asking Government and the Prime Minister a simple question: Are you going to abide by the Armstrong Report?”
He had sat in the shade further down Gray Street away from the cameras and the spotlight and watched the protest unfold. Then he spoke to the media, saying: “I salute the women for their tenacity, their resourcefulness and their strength in the face of an aberrant, disingenuous and reckless government.” Women like Leela Boodhai, Tara Sharma, Camara Karim and Zorida Ramkisoon have been at the forefront of the protest movement since its inception.
They staged similar events, like the one at Parvati Girls’ Hindu College last year on Indian Arrival Day, to draw public attention and raise political pressure on Government to re-route the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension. They want it to run from Point Fortin to San Fernando, avoiding the Debe to Mon Desir stretch, where the protesters’ family homes, where, they say, some have lived all their lives and are about to be bulldozed.
Diggers, tractors and bulldozers are clearing private land in Mon Desir, where families grow fruit trees that are a livelihood for some. The machinery and workers are protected by a shield of police preventing campaigners from interfering with the work. Acquisition orders have been served but the owners are refusing to move. The cash offers Government has made to residents are laughable, they say.
Tractors are close to the boundary of Mohan Banui’s property. He has received several letters and e-mails from the Government, with offers of $175,000 for two acres of cultivated land that his family has owned for 64 years as well as an approved building lot. He says the money is not enough to buy land and build another house.
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