I first met Derek Walcott, who died on March 20, in the late 1960s when we both worked as reporters at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Evening News in my native Trinidad.
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Kublalsingh in new protest until next year
Environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh plans to protest outside the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, Port-of-Spain, until the next general election. He restarted his peaceful protest outside the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s office yesterday against the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir section of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin. The environmentalist, who spoke to the T&T Guardian while being shaded by a tree on Gray Street, St Clair, said he was prepared to wait outside of the Office of the Prime Minister until the election was called and even beyond that if Persad-Bissessar continued to ignore the Armstrong report.
It was compiled by former Independent senator James Armstrong and a group of 19 technical experts on the Mon Desir section of the highway following the intervention of several groups, including the Joint Consultative Council (JCC), after a hunger strike by Kublalsingh in December 2012. It recommended three months later that no further work be undertaken on the section of the highway until all of the conditions contained in the Certificate of Environmental Clearance have been fulfilled, including the need for all the plans specified in the Environmental Impact Assessment submitted to the Environmental Management Authority, and for approvals to be obtained from the relevant agencies. “We are here to remind the honourable Prime Minister she must do the honourable thing and abide by the Armstrong report. “We plan to be out here until the elections and even if the next Government comes in and continues to ignore the report, we will remain here,” Kublalsingh added.
Kublalsingh went on a 21-day hunger strike outside of the Office of the Prime Minister in December 2012 but ended after the Prime Minister appointed Armstrong to review the project. He has led protests at the Mon Desir site after complaints that construction vehicles were moving in on private lands in the area. He was arrested several times for the obstruction of police officers in the exercise of their duties. “She (Persad-Bissessar) needs to be more responsible, otherwise why did we have this hunger strike? Why was this report commissioned? Why did they participate in the process,” said Kublalsingh. He expressed confusion as to why the report was being ignored by Government, despite costing it close to $1 million. “What does the Prime Minister want to do? Condemn it to a bin? Put it on a shelf?” he asked. Today, Justice James Aboud will deliver a key ruling in a lawsuit filed by the Highway Re-route Movement seeking to stop the project at Debe. “If it is granted, it has all the powers of an injunction and the contractor will certainly have to stop work, pending the matter in court,” Kablalsingh added.