NO time was wasted while the Highway Re-Route Movement occupied lands during their protest against the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Point Fortin highway and therefore no monies should be paid to the foreign contractor.
This was the response by leader of the movement Dr Wayne Kublalsingh yesterday outside the Hall of Justice, where he and a few protesters are continuing their protest after being evicted two weeks ago.
Asked about the multi-million price tag the protest action has allegedly cost Brazilian contractors, Constructura OAS Ltd, for the highway, Kublalsingh said this is just a claim.
"The responsible people in Government must now sit down with OAS and ask what is the claim about. As far as were are concerned no time has wasted. If the Government decides to waste money and pay $3 million dollars they will be wasting money. OAS does not deserve money for that, it is a claim not a cost and the claim is subjected to negotiations," Kublalsingh said.
The claim was made public on Saturday after OAS stated they were ready to begin construction on April 12 but had to halt work as the protesters were occupying the lands in their path.
Attorney for the group, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC, said yesterday it is the Government's fault that the project was delayed.
"If the Government is claiming the camp had kept them back then they had a right to follow process of law to evict the protesters. Let the Attorney General file his claim and we will deal with it," Maharaj said.
Maharaj said by the end of the week he will be filing a claim against the State which will encompass the illegality of the destruction of the re-route camp and the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir leg of the highway. He added that he is "putting the finishing touches" of the draft for the lawsuit.
He said the movement is "about to embark upon one of the most historic cases" in Trinidad and Tobago ,in which the rights of protesters and the right to protect the environment will be determined by the courts of Trinidad and Tobago.
He called on the Government to come clean on the compensation monies they have allotted to pay residents of the area saying the sum has been tremendously increased from what the previous administration had set aside.
He added that Government was now hiring professional protesters to challenge anyone who opposes them and called on them to stop this practice since it is violating freedom of expression.