LEFT: Kamla Persad-Bissessar RIGHT: Vilma Kublalsingh

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PM writes to Vilma Kublalsingh: Son's protest will not stop highway

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

In a letter to Dr Wayne Kublalsingh's mother, Vilma, yesterday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, while lending love and support, made it clear that Kublalsingh's hunger strike would not stop the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir section of the multibillion-dollar highway.

Persad-Bissessar said the insistence of the Highway Re-Route Movement to stop the development was not "tenable", and she could not support Kublalsingh's cause when hundreds of thousands of citizens of this country stood to benefit from the highway.

"As a mother, I share your concern for the well-being of Wayne. Your brief note (which Mrs Kublalsingh had sent to the PM requesting that she meet her son) tugged at my heartstrings when I read it, for I know what your son's actions must be putting you through," stated Persad-Bissessar.

She added, however: "As Prime Minister, I also have a duty and an obligation to the nation in ensuring that all matters are dealt with fairly and in the interest of everyone."

The Prime Minister pointed out that she had met with Kublalsingh and took the decision to put on hold a section of the extension of the Solomon Hochoy Highway to Point Fortin development until discussions were held and a technical evaluation conducted.

"These conditions were met, discussions held, evaluations concluded and compromises made to the development. But the insistence of the Highway Re-Route Movement to stop the project is not tenable, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of citizens who will enjoy the positive benefits of the road linkages for generations to come cannot be denied," stated Persad-Bissessar.

"And while I admire the strength of conviction of Wayne, I am not so sure that the measures used to express his views are good for him or the cause he represents. I share a deep understanding for the need for causes such as Wayne's but not of the effects in this particular matter," the Prime Minister added.

On Monday, Persad-Bissessar mandated Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan and Minister of the People Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh to meet with Kublalsingh and provide medical care and some measure of solace and support.

She also instructed that an ambulance be stationed nearby in the event of an emergency.

Persad-Bissessar, in her letter of comfort to Vilma Kublalsingh, assured that her son will be attended to.

"I assure you, however, that both as a mother and Prime Minister, I have been moved to put in place all measures to ensure that your son is well looked after, albeit within the confines of whatever he allows. I join you in prayerful support for Wayne's health and well-being. May good reason prevail," stated Persad-Bissessar as she signed the letter "in loving support".

Kublalsingh and the Re-Route Movement have been protesting the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir section of the highway on the grounds that the environment would be affected and families dislodged.

The group had put forward another option to the technical team from the Works and Infrastructure Ministry which was not accepted, but comprises were made which were rejected by the Re-Route Movement.

Following a breakdown in negotiations and discussions, the group took the matter to the courts through their attorney, former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj.

The Works Ministry has maintained that the matter is now sub judice as it is pending before the courts.

Text of the letter yesterday from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to Vilma Kublalsingh, mother of hunger striker Dr Wayne Kublalsingh:

Dear Mrs Kublalsingh,

As a mother, I share your concern for the well-being of Wayne. Your brief note tugged at my heartstrings when I read it, for I know what your son's actions must be putting you through. As Prime Minister, I also have a duty and an obligation to the nation in ensuring that all matters are dealt with fairly and in the interest of everyone. As you know, I did meet with Wayne and took the decision to put on hold a section of the extension of the Solomon Hochoy Highway to Point Fortin development until discussions were held and a technical evaluation conducted. These conditions were met, discussions held, evaluations concluded and compromises made to the development. But the insistence of the Highway Re-Route Movement to stop the project is not tenable, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of citizens who will enjoy the positive benefits of the road linkages for generations to come cannot be denied. And while I admire the strength of conviction of Wayne, I am not so sure that the measures used to express his views are good for him or the cause he represents. I share a deep understanding for the need for causes such as Wayne's but not of the effects in this particular matter. "I assure you, however, that both as a mother and Prime Minister, I have been moved to put in place all measures to ensure that your son is well looked after, albeit within the confines of whatever he allows. I join you in prayerful support for Wayne's health and well-being. May good reason prevail." In loving support, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

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