Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh explanation.





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Published on Nov 26, 2012

The Highway Re-Route Movement (HRM) has always been, and is, in favor of the construction of the San Fernando to Point Fortin highway.

However, the HRM has difficulty with the Debe to Mon Desir link to the main highway which will push through the Oropuche Lagoon. It is this particular segment of the highway for which they recommended a substantive review including a social impact assessment, a hydrological study, and a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed construction. A review of these proposed works by an Independent body is what had been requested, and was agreed to by the Prime Minister.

On March 16th 2012, the Prime Minister met with the HRM led by Dr Kublalsingh, and by calling for a halt on all construction and a technical review, acknowledged that there were legitimate technical concerns that needed to be addressed. Today, Dr Kublalsingh is on the 13th day of the hunger strike, to protest the Government's failure to provide the independent review.

The HRM was subsequently called to two meetings. At the first meeting, the HRM was prevented from bringing their own technical team to meet with the Government's technical team and it is because of this that the HRM left the meeting. At the second meeting the HRM was given a five-page document with photographs and one-line statements. At no stage have the technical reports been produced in the areas of hydrology, enviroinmental and social impact, or cost benefit. Although construction works were slowed for a while it has never stopped.

The Government claims to have satisfied the promise of the technical review. The HRM has called the process a farce and a public relations gimmick.

To date no technical reports have been provided to the HRM on hydrology, environmental and social impact, or cost benefit. The government last light at a meeting in Penal, waved in the air a copy of what seemed to be, a June 2012 Nidco Report claiming that they had addressed the issues raised by the HRM. This Report is actually part of the evidence filed by the HRM in the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago, substantiating its claim that there was no further "technical data" provided by the government, further to March 16th 2012.

After years of writing letters, placarding, campaigning, camping on the site, being arrested, and witnessing the Prime Minister renege on her commitment, Dr Kublalsingh has embarked on a hunger strike, eating no food and drinking no water. As at November 27th, Dr Kublalsingh would not have had any food to eat or water to drink for 13 days. The health and potentially the life of Dr. Kublalsingh remains significantly at risk.

On November 26th, a five-minute video of Dr Kublalsingh was released via YouTube. Still calm and coherent, Dr Kublalsingh outlined again the reasons for his action. He is asking that an independent technical review be done as this has the potential to save billions
of the taxpayer's money, that will be more environmentally sound, prevent significant flooding and that will avoid the unnecessary upheaval and displacement of approximately 300 homes in 13 communities.

Dr Kublalsingh stresses that what he wants is for this highway to be built wisely, and for a particular segment of it to be reconsidered with the people, and the environment and taxpayers' money in mind via a proper technical process.

He awaits the Prime Minister's announcements on the matter.


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