Saturday, February 17, 2018

Continued vigil'depends on PM'

Environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh yesterday admitted to "feeling more tired" than before, after day 16 of his hunger strike ended again without word from the Prime Minister.

Kublalsingh said his return to the vigil on Monday, day 19 of his hunger strike, would be dependent on the Prime Minister's response to the proposal from the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry (JCC) and other civic organisations. But while he waited for word, his family was already strategising on their plans for Monday.

Kublalsingh was initially in better spirits as he arrived at the protest site opposite the Prime Minister's office in St Clair yesterday, saying he hoped to hear "something" from the Prime Minister on the proposal made to her on Wednesday to end the impasse.

But as the hours wore on without word on whether the Government had accepted the proposal for a independent review, Kublalsingh said:

"I am getting very faint more often. I have to often go to the ambulance and relax," he said, adding that while his blood remained stable, his doctors were concerned.

"I have seen five doctors so far and there is a risk of multiple-organ failure and kidney dysfunction and heart and liver," he said.

Despite the medical concerns, Kublalsingh said he would not end his hunger strike until the Prime Minister kept her promise to stop the works on the Debe-to-Mon Desir section of the highway to Point Fortin.

By midday, a tent was set up across the street from the Prime Minister's office, lower on Gray Street, under police watch. The group was told the police would not remove the tent under the condition that both the tent and the supporters remained behind the white line on the edge of the road.

"We giving you all a tent, but we taking the white line," one police officer joked with the group.

By 1 p.m, the deadline given by the JCC-led group, Kublalsingh asked reporters if the Prime Minister had responded. When he learned she had not yet said anything, he closed his eyes and meditated again.

"We will wait until 4 (p.m.), then," he said.

When the camp broke for the weekend, Kublalsingh was unsure about whether he would be back on Monday. He said that was dependent on the Prime Minister and her decision on the proposal for an independent review.

"The proposal by the JCC gave 48 hours for them to reply and we have not heard a reply. When we receive that statement, I will look at it. We would give a response over the weekend or on Monday," he said.

Kublalsingh said while he stayed at "a very beautiful place in north Port of Spain" during the week, he intended to return to South Trinidad for the weekend.

"We continue the fast of course," he added.

During yesterday's vigil, Kublalsingh's Highway Re-Route team was serenaded by local band 3Canal, with a song entitled "The People" that they had written in support of the activist's cause. Kublalsingh also met with mas legend Peter Minshall who held Kublalsingh's hands and called him "a brave man".

"I believe that our island is an actual work of art. I wish you and your family well 'cause your wellness clearly depends on other people perhaps coming to their senses," Minshall told him.

"I am just here to touch the hand of a brave and good man," he added.

A somber Minshall laughed when Kublalsingh responded that "activism was also an art".

When asked his opinion of the entire situation between the Government and Kublalsingh, Minshall sang, "rum, rum sweet rum, when I call you, you bound to come. Yes rum, rum sweet rum, when I call you you bound to come. You were made from Caroni cane and they bring you to Port of Spain. I going to send my scorpion to bite you centipede, santimanitay. Without humanity."

Kublalsingh was also visited by chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee, Khafra Kambon, who also on the Government to listen to Kublalsingh before it was too late.