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Kublalsingh held again in highway protest

Sunday, March 16, 2014
Vishel Boodai, a member of the Highway Re-route Movement, left, exchanges words with angry members of the Highway support group in Gopie Trace, Penal, during protests by both groups yesterday. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH

Highway Re-route Movement leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh was handcuffed and bodily removed from a bulldozer yesterday by police during a protest to stop construction work in the Gopie Trace, Penal area, yesterday. During the highly-emotional demonstration, members Vandana Boodai, 23, and Ramkaran Bhagwansingh were also arrested and taken to the Penal Police Station. While other members cried and begged the police to leave them alone, highway supporters cheered and clapped, resulting in a clash between the two groups. 



Highway Re-route members are against the Debe to Mon Desir segment of $7.5 billion Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin being built by Brazilian construction firm, Construtora OAS. This is the fourth time in six months that Kublalsingh has been arrested for engaging in similar action. 


Led by Kublalsingh, the members walked from their nearby camp to a graded area off the road where OAS’s bulldozer and testing equipment were located. On the bulldozer they placed four “tyres of shame,” sprayed abeer (colourful liquid used during Phagwa) on the window and smeared it  with mud. 



Kublalsingh claimed he spoke with someone at the site who agreed to move out the tractor. Shortly after, however, four jeep-loads of police officers arrived.  Kublalsingh called on his members to climb on top of the bulldozer as others surrounded it while they prayed. After being warned by the police, all but  Kublalsingh had dismounted. Four officers climbed up the bulldozer and lifted him down.


In a press conference earlier, Kublalsingh said the movement will continue to resist “in a dramatic way” any attempt to bulldoze areas in Ghandi Village to Mon Desir area. 



Siew, 72: They have to bulldoze house with me in it
He said on Friday Baliram Siew, 72, was served with a Section 4 notice. Siew had been occupying his house for over 60 years and was the owner of the land for 40 years. “We are pleading with you (Prime Minister). Please have compassion and listen to the people of Debe/Mon Desir and this country.” He called on her to abide by the Armstrong report. Siew, who lives with seven other family members, said, “They have to bulldoze the house with me in it.” He said he was never offered any compensation.”

Fixing T&T president Kirk Waithe, who was part of the protest,  said even though the Government might not be breaking the law, it is ethically and morally wrong.



Support group: We need a highway, we are losing $$
Highway Support Group spokesman Harland Teemul said a lot of businessmen are being affected because of Kublalsingh’s actions. “We are not ruling out a court case against Kubalsingh. A lot of people and business people are losing money. He is stalling the highway. We need a highway.” T&T Guardian was told that the company would be setting up a security booth on the site. Up to late yesterday, neither Kublalsingh nor his members were charged.


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