"Ill-advised and precipitous."
Highway Re-Route Movement (HRM) leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh has accused the state of “manipulating” the court system to delay hearing of HRM’s legal challenge of the contentious Debe to Mon Desir leg of the San Fernando to Point Fortin highway project. Yesterday, Kublalsingh declared that he will not back down in his fight to stop the Debe to Mon Desir leg of project nor will the HRM be deterred.
Kublalsingh, together with Highway Re-Route Movement (HRM) supporters, embarked on an awards distribution of sorts yesterday hanging tyres, which they called “badges of shame,” outside Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal’s Debe office, Nidco’s sub-office at SS Erin Road and on two tractors at the Suchit Trace construction site for the Debe/Mon Desir leg of the highway.
Today Kublalsingh and the HRM’s legal team will return to court for hearing of an application for an urgent injunction to stop construction works on the multi-billion dollar Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway extension project. HRM had mounted a legal challenge to the multi-billion dollar project after government failed to honour the findings of the Dr James Armstrong highway review report.
Legal submissions on the injunction were expected to be heard on Friday, however the matter was adjourned to today. State attorneys had indicated that they applied to Court of Appeal to stay proceedings before Justice James Aboud, who rejected arguments that he (Aboud) should recuse himself from presiding over the matter. Yesterday Kublalsingh defiantly declared that the state’s action on Friday was a deliberate tactic.
He said it was “in a bid to delay the court from coming to a fair judgement on the matter so they could continue with the work between Debe and Mon Desir.” “We are fighting not just for us but for the social, financial, economic, ecologically justice of entire T&T and entire planet,” Kublalsingh said yesterday as he addressed a media conference at the HRM’s Gopie Trace, Debe campsite. He claimed $5 billion of the $7 billion project is being spent in Debe and citizens should not sit idly by allow the wastage of public funds.
“We have a right as a people not just to sit down and accept. We have a right as a citizenry whose economic interests are attacked to stand up. We cannot sit down and watch Indian movies and go and eat curry duck and go an play all fours while our fortunes are attacked by the Prime Minister. We have to defend ourselves,” Kublalsingh said.
He defended the “badges of shame” which he said was an act of diplomacy. He was unapologetic for hanging a badge of shame at Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s Philippine, San Fernando home nor was he sorry for doing the same at Moonilal’s office. He said HRM has written to President Anthony Carmona seeking another meeting to petition him to intervene in the dispute.
When contacted for comment on Kublalsingh’s tyre award, Moonilal, via SMS, said, “I do not pay attention to Mr Kublalsingh’s disturbing affinity to a tyre. It is not unlike my three pet dogs, who are also fascinated by tyres.” While media reports suggested that Kublalsingh’s hanging of a tyre at Persad-Bissessar’s home is now the subject of a police inquiry, Kublalsingh said he has not been contacted by police.
Additionally, he said, he could not be arrested since he did nothing wrong.