Water Resources Minister Ganga Singh yesterday defended the pipeline works on the streets skirting Green Park, Felicity, where Jack Warner held a public meeting last night.
Singh visited the area yesterday, 12 hours after Warner, the Independent Liberal Party’s interim leader, and his supporters staged a sit-in protest and physically blocked contractors from digging ditches around the park.
“I think people get paranoid around election time,” Singh said.
He said that the People’s Partnership was not using the roadworks and water line upgrade to deliberately upset Warner’s meeting.
“That is a baseless allegation. There is no merit to that whatsoever and that sit-in protest yesterday (Thursday) was really a stage managed political opportunity,” Singh said.
Singh described Warner’s three hour sit-in was “totally unnecessary”.
“The workers told the leadership of the ILP that they would complete the work in three hours last night and therefore they had to work later than usual to complete the work,” he said.
On Thursday night, Warner and his supporters remained on the work site until after 11 p.m and only left when they were assured that the road would be repaved before his meeting last night.
“The workers had to work later that usual to bring about the restoration that you see. There is no hindrance to people coming to Green Park from Boundary Road,” Singh said, adding that there were several other access points to get to the area.
“It was never the intention to create any hindrance to access to Green Park,” he stressed.
He said work on the road started earlier this week, long before Warner had advertised the meeting at Green Park. Singh also denied that the work were taking place to coincide with the heavily contested by-election for the Chaguanas West seat.
“We do not operate on the basis of a general election, we operate on the basis of when things are brought to our attention,” he said.
Singh said regardless of political affiliation, the residents of the area needed to have their water mains upgraded.
But Singh’s sedate press briefing, at which he said the works were not done with malicious intent, heated up when ILP member Amarnath Jaggasar arrived and insisted that the work was a deliberate attempt to hamper the preparations for Warner’s meeting in the park.
Jaggasar said the work was only now being completed because of the ILP’s sit-in which highlighted the Government’s actions to frustrate the party.
“How are we supposed to transport equipment into the park when the works going on? They are creating an inconvenience to the people to come to the meeting,” Jagassar said.
He said when the heavier equipment came in to assemble Warner’s stage it was met with sand over the ditches instead of asphalt.
“It is creating a challenge. Why couldn’t this be done after election, why are they in such a haste?” he said.
Jagassar was then confronted by a United National Congress (UNC) supporter who condemned the ILP for “stirring up” the residents in the area for no reason.
Though Singh attempted to placate the confrontation, he eventually left the two-man shouting match and toured the rest of the water works. While Singh was on the scene, asphalt trucks arrived and began working to resurface a portion of the road.