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Kublalsingh: I feel good after meeting with PNM leader
Environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh emerged confident of Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley’s support after he met with him last Friday to discuss the issue of the Debe to Mon Desir portion of the Point Fortin highway project. “I think he genuinely believes in a republic which ought to abide by certain standards,” said Kublalsingh as he addressed members of the media in the conference room at the Opposition Leader’s office in Port-of-Spain. “We came here to put forward our case for the Re-route Movement,” he said, adding that the Government should be focusing on building the Point Fortin to San Fernando highway instead of pushing for the Debe to Mon Desir route.
Kublalsingh said the Inter-American Development Bank had done a report stating it would not fund the construction of the highway as it was “over-designed, had too much concrete, too much interchange...too much destruction.” He said the highway was thus being funded by taxpayers’ dollars. He insisted Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had promised to abide by the recommendations of the Armstrong Report. “Madam Prime Minister, are you going to abide by the findings of the Armstrong Report?” Kublalsingh asked. “Are you going to, as promised, await the decision of the court before you proceed with any kind of substantial work between Mon Desir and Debe?”
Kublalsingh referred to a “contract that was entered into by a former minister in this Government,” as the binding factor in the Government’s inflexibility on the matter, saying Rowley had informed him of this but had not given any names. He also said Rowley felt there was “malfeasance” in the award of contracts and the procurement process and asked that these transparency issues be dealt with. “I don’t think the people who met under the Armstrong Committee are supporting us because they like us, they are independent, they did the studies, and they said that this particular project isn’t viable,” Kublalsingh said.
The committee’s report called for a halt on the project and for various reports, such as a hydrology report and social impact and cost benefit analyses, to be done before it could continue.
Affected residents Tara Sharma and Terrence Boodai were also present at the meeting with Rowley on Friday. Sharma, who has lived in Debe for 37 years, will be affected by the changes made to the landscape. “When that highway is built there with that embankment...that place will flood night and day. You are trampling on our rights as citizens," Sharma said. Boodai said in Debe and Mon Desir, and surrounding communities, the roads could be upgraded to feed into a main artery in the same way that it is done in other parts of Trinidad and for the Claude Noel Highway in Tobago.
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