Last update: 12-Dec-2013 4:50 am
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
Hope on horizon for Re-route Movement
The Highway Re-route Movement has a legitimate expectation that some of the findings and recommendations of an independent report on the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin will be considered and implemented by the Government. This was the main point proffered by attorneys representing the group, as they returned to court yesterday seeking an injunction stopping the controversial Debe to Mon Desir segment of the project.
Lead attorney for the group, Fyard Hosein, SC, while presenting submissions before Justice James Aboud in the Port-of-Spain High Court, said the expectation was created when the Government commissioned and contributed almost $750,000 for the report. The report, which was prepared by a team of 17 professionals, led by former independent senator Dr James Armstrong, said construction work should be stopped immediately to allow further scientific assessments to take place.
He said such an expectation could only be defeated if the State was able to prove that there was an overriding public interest that could negate it. He claimed that the Government’s apparent disregard for the report could amount to breach of natural justice. “They (the Government) had to go through a process of consultation with us before rejecting it (the report),” Hosein said.
Hosein suggested that with mega-projects, such as the highway, the Government had a duty to engage the population before making decisions and that social impact assessments for these projects were essential in modern planning law. Hosein was unable to complete his submissions yesterday and Aboud was forced to set aside three dates in November to allow him time to complete them and the State an opportunity to respond.
Before adjourning the matter, Aboud asked the State’s legal team if their clients were willing to come to a compromise in terms of pausing the construction work while the injunction application was being adjudicated on. Senior Counsel Russell Martineau indicated that this was not possible, as works were ongoing and any delays would cost millions of dollars. Martineau was careful to note that the State was being unfairly labelled as being callous towards the group.
He said, “The State has a responsibility to the country as a whole. It is not unsympathetic but the State has to run a country.” Mas designer Peter Minshall, Roman Catholic priest Fr Clyde Harvey and outgoing Port-of-Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing were all present in court yesterday to lend support to Kublalsingh and his members.
Senior Counsel Deborah Peake and attorneys Kelvin Ramkisson, Gerald Ramdeen and Shastri Roberts are representing the State. Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, and Rishi Dass also are part of the group’s legal team. The injunction application will again be heard on November 8, 13 and 14.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.