Hunger strike ends over Trinidad highway project

image Kublalsingh and the Highway Re-route Movement (HRM) had been calling for the authorities to halt the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the highway.

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, December 6, 2012 – Environmentalist Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh has ended a 21 day hunger strike in protest over the Trinidad and Tobago government’s decision to construct a multi-billion dollar highway that he said would have caused widespread damage to the environment and disrupt the lives of hundreds of people in the south of the country.

The 53-year University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer agreed to call off his daily protest outside the office of Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar on Wednesday night after holding talks with officials from the Joint Consultative Council (JCC) on the TT$7.2 billion (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) San Fernando to Point Fortin  highway project.

“The JCC and its partners have agreed to a review and the government has also agreed to undertake to do commission the review. This review and the terms of reference, the JCC agreed to do a hydrology study of the area. They also agreed to do a social impact assessment …they also agreed to listen to written and oral submissions from residents in the area,” Kublalsingh said on television.

Kublalsingh and the Highway Re-route Movement (HRM) had been calling for the authorities to halt the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the highway and he told television viewers that agreement had been reached “to stop all works” on that section.

“As far as that is concerned we are satisfied,” he said.

On Monday, Works Minister Emmanuel George, who met with the JCC and other non-government bodies seeking a resolution to the impasse over the construction of the highway, said “the National Infrastructure Development Company Limited (NIDCO) undertook to make available to the JCC all the relevant documentation in its possession on the project in respect of the Debe to Mont Desir segement of the highway.

He said that the JCC had given an undertaking to “examine all the documentation on the project provided  by NIDCO and all other relevant documentation and to produce a report within 60 days from today’s date for NIDCO for its consideration and publication thereafter”.

In addition, George said there had been agreement that “work would continue on the site of the highway”.

JCC president Afra Raymond told reporters that he is satisfied with the outcome of the discussions.

But Kublalsingh and the HRM in a statement, said while they were grateful to the various civil society organisations, they were issuing three demands that they wanted met before calling off the hunger strike.

Kublalsingh said he is now satisfied that these demands had been met and as a result was calling off his hunger strike.

He said he would now be seeking medical attention “and they (doctors) will tell me how to proceed from there. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)

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