Kamla receives proposal to end south Trinidad highway development “standoff”

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Thursday November 29, 2012 – In an effort to end the current standoff surrounding the development the multi-million dollar highway project in southern Trinidad, a proposal calling for the establishment of an independent technical review committee to resolve the contentious issue has been presented to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

The proposal, contained in a letter to Persad-Bissessar dated November 26 was signed by the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry (JCC), the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Nongovernmental Organisations (Fitun), Women Working for Social Progress and the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) and was endorsed by representatives of the Association of Professional Engineers, the Institute of Surveyors of Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad and Contractors Association and the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Architects.

It was also proposed that the Prime Minister appoints Dr James Armstrong to chair a technical review committee.

JCC president Afra Raymond dropped off the five-page proposal to both Persad-Bissessar’s office and to environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh who on Thursday, entered his 15th day of a hunger strike.

“That proposal is based on the restoration of public trust, that trust is being sorely eroded on both sides right now,” Raymond said.

“We are making an effort, this is a proposal to bring about an amicable settlement, a peaceful settlement based on the facts, based on merit as opposed to brute force,” he said.  

Meanwhile Congress of the People (COP) political leader Prakash Ramadhar has disassociated himself from “unbecoming and inappropriate” statements made by his United National Congress (UNC) Cabinet colleagues at a political rally in Debe on Monday night.

In a statement on Wednesday, the COP said while Ramadhar supported the Government’s decision to continue building the highway to Point Fortin as long as all environmental concerns have been addressed, including the contentious Debe to Mon Desir stretch, “this is no reason to hold Dr Kublalsingh and his family up as the subject of ridicule and distasteful humour.”

“The actions and antics of several of the speakers on Monday night were objectionable and unacceptable particularly from persons holding high office,” the party said.

At the rally, several ministers, including National Security Minister Jack Warner, made disparaging statements about Kublalsingh, with Warner saying he should “kill himself quickly.”

The COP is the second largest constituent of the People’s Partnership coalition government, after the UNC.

Ramadhar, who is also Minister of Legal Affairs, spoke to reporters on Wednesday, reiterating the sentiments of his party.

“I found some of the language unbecoming, inappropriate and we do need to set the right examples in society. Those of us who propose ourselves as leaders in the community must appreciate immediately that the eyes and ears of all our population, especially the young, are looking on and listening and we have to set that example if we want to create the society we want; we must live it by our words and actions,” he said.

The Kublalsingh family is among the founding members of the COP.

“We cherish them. But founding member or not, the issue is not about party politics. It is about what is right and proper. The State has a right and duty to advance development but at the same time taking into consideration all the facts of the matter. A decision had been made and Dr Kublalsingh is now challenging that in the courts, and outside,” Ramadhar said. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)