Friday, February 23, 2018

Ministers file affidavits in Re-Route matter

NATIONAL Security Minister Jack Warner is among three ministers who have sworn to affidavits in the constitutional motion filed on behalf of environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh and the Highway Re-Route Movement.

The others are Works and Infrastructure Minister Emmanuel George and Minister of Housing and Environment Dr Roodal Moonilal.

Chief of Defence Staff Major General Kenrick Maharaj, several police officers and army officers who were present when Kublalsingh's protest camp at Debe was demolished on June 27 last year have also given affidavit evidence.

Kublalsingh and the Re-Route Movement are contending that the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Solomon Hochoy Highway, from Golconda, San Fernando to Point Fortin, is destructive and contrary to modern planning approaches to development.

They have proposed an alternative system of road development which, they believe, would result in the saving of 300 homes, 13 businesses, a temple, a church, a mosque and an orphanage.

A declaration is also being sought that the action and/or decision of Minister Warner to forcibly remove them from their protest camp and demolish it was unlawful.

The court is also being asked to declare that the acceptance by the army and the police of Warner's instructions to demolish and remove the camp was illegal and that the doctrine of the separation of powers was breached.

The members of the Re-Route Movement say any decision to remove them and their protest camp could only have been lawfully made by the Commissioner for State Lands and only by an order of a magistrate or a judge could they have been forcibly removed.

The trial is scheduled to be heard before Justice James Aboud on May 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 in the High Court at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain.

Attorneys Fyard Hosein SC, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC, Anil Maraj and Vijaya Maharaj are representing the Re-Route Movement, while the State is being represented by attorneys Russell Martineau SC, Deborah Peake SC and Shastri Roberts among others.

Last November, Kublalsingh embarked on a 21-day hunger strike and called on Government to bring an end to construction work along the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the highway until a technical review of the project was conducted by an independent committee.

A committee, headed by Dr James Armstrong, was appointed and a report has been generated.

At a post-Cabinet news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair last Thursday, George claimed the report has given Government the green light to continue with the project.

He said, however, that the report appears to be a preliminary one.