Work on the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir section of the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway is expected to resume, as the Highway Review Committee's report on the controversial project gives the green light for its resumption.
But Dr Wayne Kublalsingh objected yesterday to the Government's interpretation of the report.Work on that section of the project was stopped in December to allow for a 60-day review to be done by a committee, which was chaired by Independent senator Dr James Armstrong.
It was appointed after the Joint Consultative Council intervened in the impasse between Kublalsingh, the leader of the Highway Re-route Movement, and the Government.Kublalsingh went on a hunger strike for three weeks to press for a review of the project late last year.
Works and Infrastructure Minister Emmanuel George told yesterday's post-Cabinet news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair that he had received an unsigned copy of the report on Ash Wednesday.He said a preliminary view of the report "brings good news to the population in that it indicates that the highway should be built."
Highway gets the green light to continue
On the basis of the findings of the committee, he said, there was no issue with the route of the highway or its impact on the environment, and the Government was prepared to "take the advice and as far as possible accommodate their suggestions and recommendations as we proceed to build the highway."
He said the report made three findings which stood out:
�2 The chosen route (Debe to Mon Desir) is considered superior from "an overall perspective."
�2 The Highway Re-route Movement's proposed route was not the preferable one, as it did not provide for traffic growth in the future.
�2 The 2007 highway hydrology report was adequate in respect of the bridge and culvert designs for the highway crossings.
George said that meant the issue of flooding had been dealt with by that report.He admitted the committee appeared to have a problem with the approach of the authorities to constructing the highway, although that was said "guardedly."There should have been more consultations with the stakeholders and the people to be relocated and better relocation and compensation arrangements should have been offered, he said.George said the Cabinet thought it appropriate to reveal the information because the population would have been anticipating it.But Kublalsingh said he had a copy of the report and he wanted to urge the Government to treat it with the seriousness it deserved and not to speak untruths about it.
Kublalsingh said George was referring to one line in the report's executive summary and not the findings of the committee.