papers to peruse: Joint Consultative Council (JCC) president Afra Raymond looks at documents relating to  Debe to Mon Desir section of the San Fernando to Point Fortin highway which were handed over to him by president of the National Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (Nidco) Dr Carson Charles, at the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure headquarters on London Street, Port of Spain yesterday. —Photo: MICHEAL BRUCE

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JCC gets 60 days to review highway plan

By Carla Bridglal carla.bridglal@trinidadexpress.com

Watchdog groups led by the Joint Consultative Council (JCC) have received and will review all relevant documents possessed by the National Infrastructural Development Company (NIDCO) relating to the Debe to Mon Desir stretch of the Point Fortin Highway.

The groups will have 60 days to produce a report and submit to NIDCO for its consideration. Until then, work will continue on the extension project, "on sites released to the contractor", including parts of the controversial route.

The JCC, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (Fitun), the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) and Working Women met with the Minister of Works and Infrastructure (MOWI) Emmanuel George, Minister in the Ministry Stacy Roopnarine and Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh in a four- hour meeting at MOWI headquarters, London Street, Port of Spain, yesterday—most of which was spent drafting a statement to articulate the terms agreed upon, and then signed off on the accord.

George read the statement to the media at a press conference that was scheduled for noon but started instead at 3 p.m., and then declined to take questions because he felt all the information necessary was presented in the statement.

JCC president Afra Raymond also made a statement to the media saying the JCC was satisfied with the agreement, which he said contained the best parts of the agreement the JCC et al presented last week to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

"(This was a) challenging discussion that was necessary in the interest of restoring public trust," Raymond said of what he called the "tough negotiations".

He said the JCC and their partners hoped for two outcomes to the discussions: that Dr Kublalsingh will consider ending his hunger strike and his supporters in the Re-Route Movement will take their concerns to the JCC's review committee, to be headed by Independent Senator Dr James Armstrong.

Raymond also called for the language used by both the pro-highway and the Re-Route Movement to be "toned down" and for "civility to be restored in the way you speak and listen to each other".

Raymond also refused to take questions, but the media still attempted to receive clarification on significant points of the agreement, notably the assertion that work will still continue on the highway.

When asked if this included the Debe to Mon Desir route, Raymond insisted with an emphatic , "No!" that this will not be the case and that "No work was going on there and that won't happen."

The Express had later contacted Dr Carson Charles for further clarification, and he said contracts had been granted for certain parts of the stretch, specifically the two interchanges—Fyzabad Interchange and Mon Desir Interchange. He said the contractor was limited to these areas and the contractors "were not due to move on forward".

The following is the agreement between the parties:

1. Nidco undertook to make available to the JCC all the relevant documentation in its possession on the project in respect of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the highway extension.

2. The JCC undertook to examine all the documentation on the project provided by Nidco and all other relevant documentation and to produce a report within 60 days from yesterday's date to Nidco for its consideration and its publication thereafter.

3. Work will continue on sites of the highway released to the contractor.

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