Monday, February 19, 2018

I will help break impasse with Govt, says senator


looking at the facts: Dr James Armstrong

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Independent Senator Dr James Armstrong says he stands ready to assist in bringing an end to the impasse between the People's Partnership Government and the Highway Re-Route Movement over the controversial Debe to Mon Desir section of the Point Fortin Highway.

Armstrong's profile on the Parliament website indicates he is a development planner and is the holder of a first degree in environmental design, a master's degree in urban and regional planning from Columbia Univer- sity and a Ph.D in developmental planning from the University of Nairobi.

He admitted he was approached by the civil society groups prior to the compiling of their recommendations and presentation of a proposal to the Government and Dr Wayne Kublalsingh last week.

Copies of the proposal were handed to both sides by the president of the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry (JCC), Afra Raymond, calling for the creation of an independent technical review team of the highway to be chaired by Armstrong.

"I was approached by the civil society groups and asked whether I will assist in trying to break the impasse, and I said, 'yes'," Armstrong said, adding he saw it as "service to the country".

On Monday, following a four-hour meeting, the National Infrastructural Development Company (Nidco) agreed to provide the group with all the relevant documents relating to the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Point Fortin highway project and allow them 60 days to review and report on the matter. There was also an agreement that no work will continue on the disputed section.

The Independent Senator, who had also worked with the United Nations for a number of years, envisages that the exercise could take about three months, adding that once there is agreement on the terms of reference, the next move will be to pull together a specialist team.

"I have no opinion of the matter at this stage and would be looking at the facts and the terms of reference should there be agreement by both sides," Armstrong said.