Sunday, February 18, 2018

Highway injunction lifted: Work can resume

Construction work in Aripo before the highway project was stopped. Image courtesy Gary Aboud.

THE injunction preventing construction work on the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway extension to Manzanilla has been lifted.

In the Hall of Justice, Port of Spain, Justice Kevin Ramcharan on Tuesday afternoon refused to grant leave to the group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) to judicially review the decision of the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) to issue a certificate of environmental clearance (CEC) for the project.

The Express understands that attorneys for the FFOS intend appealing Justice Ramcharan's decision at the earliest opportunity.

The FFOS group claimed the highway construction was threatening the Aripo Savannas, which is an EMA-designated environmentally sensitive area (ESA).

The group had also challenged the EMA grant of a CEC to the Ministry of Works for a 5,000-metre highway from the Cumuto Main Road to Guaico Trace in Sangre Grande, calling the CEC  “unreasonable, illegal, procedurally improper, irrational, null and void and of no effect.”

And lawyers for the EMA argued that the FFOS, which did not participate in the public consultations on the highway construction, had no evidence to support its claims, and had provided no justification for its delay in challenging the EMA's CEC.

The lawyers representing the Works Ministry and the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) had argued that more than $1 million a day in expenses was being incurred as a result of the delay caused by the injunction granted on January 17.