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Kamla: Hunger strike most challenging

By Kim Boodram

THE protest action against Government's proposed Point Fortin highway was her biggest challenge this year so far, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said yesterday.

Speaking after distributing toys at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Arima, during the first of a series of children's Christmas parties she has hosted every year since taking office, Persad-Bissessar said there were many challenges this year but the movement against the highway stood out.

Environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh ended a 21-day hunger strike outside the Prime Minister's Office in St Clair last week.

His hunger strike was to get the government to consider an alternative route to the highway.

Kublalsingh leads a group of protesters from the Debe and San Francique areas called the Highway Re-Route Movement.

Calling the issue a "troubling and emotional" one, Persad-Bissessar said it was the most outstanding among other challenges that tend to be typical of the mid-term period.

She said she intends to ensure the second half of the government's term is much better.

Asked if she had any regrets, Persad-Bissessar said there were none except her inability to spend as much time with her family as she would like.

She said she wished more could be done on the problems facing the country, particularly with crime, but she intended to keep trying in that area.

She wished for a brighter 2013 and was optimistic that the economy was looking up, as more businesses will be coming in at the start of the year.

Touching on protests two days ago by residents of Beetham, Persad-Bissessar said she has been advised meetings have been held with members of the community and a resolution is on the way.

The residents blocked parts of the Beetham Highway last Wednesday night, burning tyres and garbage and calling on the government to bring more jobs to the area.

Sport Minister Anil Roberts, speaking at the Christmas party yesterday, said the protests were sparked by those in the area who were no longer able to profit underhandedly from make-work situations such as the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP).

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