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Investors must not finance highway—Kublalsingh
Highway Reroute activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh is warning investors to refrain from financing the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Solomon Hochoy highway extension as it is an “economically ruinous project.” His comments came as Finance Minister Larry Howai makes moves to acquire $5 billion from the international money market to finance the $7.5 billion highway. Kublalsingh said based on media reports, some of this money would be used to “offset” the cost of the Point Fortin highway.
Questioning whether this included the proposed Debe to Mon Desir Highway, Kublalsingh said corporate investors must be aware that the Inter-American Development Bank refused to finance the project. Saying tendering was flawed and the highway was over-designed and too costly, Kublalsingh noted that while the Point Fortin to San Fernando Highway was essential, “no one has proved the necessity or the economic viability of the Debe to Mon Desir highway.”
He said $750,000 was spent to do a review of the project by independent Senator Dr James Armstrong, yet the findings of the Armstrong team were ignored by the government.
“The Armstrong report, concluded that the Debe to Mon Desir Highway must be stopped, pending the commissioning of a number of substantial studies. It concluded that the Environmental Impact Assessment for Debe to Mon Desir was flawed. That, in view of the likely significant detrimental social impact of this highway, a Social Impact Assessment must be commissioned.
It stated that no cost-benefit analysis of this project exists, and that one should be commissioned. It also stated that a hydrology report of the study area must be commissioned, due to likely significant negative impacts on the Oropouche Lagoon and on flooding,” Kublalsingh said. He added that the report concluded that a number of irregularities and illegalities associated with this project must be rectified.
“The Prime Minister and her Government refused to abide by the Armstrong Report. The Minister of Works continues to assert that the total cost of all three highways associated with this project, Debe to Golconda, Point Fortin to San Fernando, and Debe to Mon Desir will be $7.5 billion.
This is false. A true economic accounting, comprising a list of items to be costed, published in the Armstrong Report, suggests that the Debe to Mon Desir Highway alone would cost the taxpayer the sum of the bond issue ventured into by Minister Howai,” Kublalsingh said. He noted that the Debe to Mon Desir segment “constitutes an economic, social and ecological hazard for the thirteen communities in the area.
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