Less than a year after he staged a 21-day hunger strike to force the Trinidad and Tobago government to halt the construction of a multi-billion dollar highway, south of here, environmentalist Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh is back staging another protest action outside the office of Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar.
Kublalsingh said while he would not be engaging in another hunger strike, he would nonetheless be protesting peacefully the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the TT$$7.2 billion (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) San Fernando to Point Fortin highway project.
The 53-year-old environmentalist said that he and members of the Highway Re-Route Movement will be protesting outside the Prime Minister’s office until she meets with them and makes her position clear on whether she will abide by the James Armstrong report.
He said he will protest outside the Prime Minister’s office “as long as it takes” to get a meeting with her.
“I want her to tell the nation whether she is going to blank this report or whether she is going to do the truthful thing and obey the voice of the people and truth,” he said, after he delivered a letter to the Prime Minister’s press secretary Francis Joseph.
Last year, civil society groups, including the Joint Consultative Council, mediated between the government and the Re-Route Movement resulting in the establishment of an independent review committee, headed by former Independent senator Dr James Armstrong.
Kublalsingh told reporters that he understands the Persad Bissessar government intends to start work on the Debe-to-Mon Desir section of the highway and disregard the findings of the report.
He said the government is also going ahead with the project ahead of any ruling by the courts on the issue and insists that this section of the highway would result in corruption as well as economic and ecological disaster.
He urged reporters to question those people “who owns the trucks, who are the real owners of the trucks, go to the people who own aggregate companies and find out who are their relatives and see if you can find the link between the owners of the aggregate and Government ministers.
“Go to people who own businesses not in their own names but in the names of relatives who live in the Penal to Debe area… you will find a link way to the top of the Government. Go and find out, for example, who’s handling compensation issues and land-acquisition issues, see who has gotten compensated, see who are the ones who have gotten big monies.”
He said while the Re-Route Movement supports the construction of the San Fernando-to-Point Fortin highway, there are concerns with respect to the Debe-to-Mon Desir route, which even the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) refused to fund.
Kublalsingh said the government paid nearly one million dollars to technocrats to compile the Armstrong report, which stated this section of the highway should be halted.