The newly-constructed $150 million dual carriageway on the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway from O’Meara Road to Demerara Road, Arima, was formally opened yesterday although a bar is obstructing its completion.
Around 11 a.m. yesterday while Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner and a team of technocrats from his Ministry cut the ribbon to symbolically signal the official opening of the highway, Tana Gayadeen and her daughter Cindy looked on.
The Gayadeen family are the owners of Rambaran’s B
ar at the corner of Churchill-Roosevelt Highway and Cocorite Road.
Last Monday Warner visited the bar which has been around since 1957, in an attempt to convince the Gayadeens to sell the property in order to facilitate the highway’s lane expansion.
A sign marked “The Bar is Open” was hung at the side of the bar facing the newly-expanded highway yesterday.
On Wednesday Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, attorney for the Gayadeen family, said he was given the assurance by attorneys from the Ministry of Works and Transport that the Gayadeens’ property would remain untouched. Tana said this was not adhered to.
“They came like a thief in the night, on Friday, and broke down a portion of our wall and paved part of our property to facilitate the highway expansion,” Tana said.
The Gayadeens, while not mentioned by name, were mentioned in several speeches made during the opening ceremony held at the Ministry of Works and Transport Soils Lab Compound at the corner of Tumpuna Road and Churchill-Roosevelt Highway, Arima, yesterday.
Sport Minister Anil Roberts, Member of Parliament for D’Abadie/ O’Meara, called on citizens to exhibit “selflessness and not selfishness”.
“So to those who have a little bar, I like on a weekend to drink a little rum and soda but I not going to drink rum and soda in a bar that stopping 200,000 people and the economy from going forward. Let’s stop being selfish and let’s be selfless,” Roberts said.
He also accused Watson Duke, president of the Public Services Association, of being “selfish” and making “asinine” statements.
“In Trinidad and Tobago here you heard an argument being made by certain people that we should not build a highway to Point Fortin. What we should do is spend the money on raising salaries. That sounds very good in an emotional argument but with the principles of economics, future development and increasing the Gross Domestic Product of an area it is an asinine suggestion at best,” Roberts said.
Arima Mayor Ghassan Youseph said the highway expansion which started under the People’s National Movement (PNM) in 2005 but was stalled in 2007 was an example of “the State and Government frustrating its citizenry”.
Both Youseph and Warner recounted driving along the highway and seeing mounds of aggregate stacked at the roadside.
Warner said next Monday he will return to Arima to officially open the Mt Pleasant Bridge which he described as the “tenth wonder of the world”.
Warner said he also has plans to pave the pools at the Caura River for parking and also to refurbish the abandoned building at Pool One so it can facilitate the sale of refreshments.