Dr Wayne Kublalsingh is escorted out of the Siparia Magistrates’ Court yesterday after he was released on bail. Kublalsingh was arrested earlier and charged with three offences which
allegedly occurred when he tried to block a bulldozer at the construction site of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension
to Point Fortin.
Kublalsingh on $10,000 bail
Human barricade on highway site...
Carolyn Kissoon firstname.lastname@example.org
ENVIRONMENTAL activist and head of the Highway Re-Route Movement Dr Wayne Kublalsingh was arrested yesterday when he attempted to prevent the resumption of construction work on the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin.
Kublalsingh was charged with obstructing police officers in the course of their duties, assault and resisting arrest.
He appeared before a Siparia magistrate yesterday afternoon and was granted $10,000 own bail.
Kublalsingh led a group of protesters to the proposed construction site of the Mon Desir interchange around 7 a.m.
Resident Fazila Ali told the Express: “This morning we came here because we heard they were going to start work on the site. We gathered at our camp and the workers were at (Construtora) OAS camp. Then we saw about 15 police officers, so we knew something was happening.”
Ali said the officers kept vigil as a backhoe operator entered the machine to begin work.
Police said Kublalsingh and a group of protesters stood in the pathway of the backhoe and refused to move.
“When the driver went inside the backhoe, we walked over and stood in front of the vehicle. We formed a human barricade and refused to move.
The driver got out and left and we returned to our camp. A few minutes later (the driver) went inside the backhoe again and we went in front of it again,” Ali said.
Investigators said officers warned Kublalsingh and his followers to move away from the site and allow the workers to do their job.
But he did not to move and officers were instructed to physically remove Kublalsingh from the site.
Kublalsingh was arrested by corporal Milford Prince and constable Corey Augillera.
He was taken to the Fyzabad Police Station where charges were laid.
But members of the Highway Re-Route Movement claimed they were assaulted by the officers and the women were pushed away by officers.
“The officers were rough. There were no female officers and they just started pushing the women away. They were strong and the women were fearful for their safety. Dr Kublalsingh continued to insist that he was not moving. Then they arrested him and took him to the police station. It was a very traumatic experience,” Ali said.
Several members remained at the camp, keeping vigil at the construction site last evening.
Outside the Siparia Court yesterday, attorney Judy Kublalsingh said that Wayne Kublalsingh’s arrest was an unfair use of State resources.
“I think the point has to be made very clearly that this is really an inequitable use of the resources of the State and a State-sanctioned force to trample the rights of private citizens of this country. We have to remember that Wayne is being arrested here on private lands belonging to a private citizen of this country. People who have not given permission to the State to come in there and to raid their lands. And the Government has taken this action, notwithstanding the fact that compensation issues are not settled.”
She said: “If the court at the end of the day says that the rights of these people were infringed under the Constitution and the highway is proceeded with, then at the end of the day they have no relief.
The court would have made a declaration, the highway would (already) have been built. And probably they would be entitled to some damages, so that is the importance of this kind of protest action. It’s not unnecessary, it is expedient,” Judy Kublalsingh said.
An injunction application was filed at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain before Justice James Aboud last week on behalf of the Highway Re-Route Movement.
The constitutional motion is scheduled to be called before Justice James Aboud at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain on October 28.
—with reporting by Nikita Braxton-Benjamin