A group of Debe residents rejoiced on the streets yesterday, burning an effigy of environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh.
Their action follows a decision by High Court judge Justice James Aboud on Wednesday to dismiss an application by the Highway Re-Route Movement (HRM) for an interim conservation order to halt work on the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin.
The residents gathered near the construction site of the Debe interchange and held up a banner with the words “Victory for Debe Residents, Victory for the Highway”.
Resident Indar Jairaj said people from the area were pleased with the High Court ruling.
“Today is a celebration for the people of Debe and surrounding communities. Today we are sending a message to (environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh) that we are the residents of Debe and this highway is important to us.” he said.
Jairaj said residents were frustrated with the gridlock traffic they encounter in trying to get out of the community.
Another resident, Regan Boxhill, said most of the Debe residents were prepared to pay the price of progress.
“There are those who believe Trinidad and Tobago ends at the Barataria roundabout.
“The UNC vision goes beyond that view. Justice is not blind and we are here to show our support,” he said.
Boxhill said residents were satisfied that a study was completed and consultation was held before construction of the highway began.
Businessman Vijay Ramai said he too supported the highway.
He said the residents were enthusiastic to get a network which would promote economic development in their community.
“We the people in Debe and Penal were neglected for the past 50 years. Here we are getting a network that would promote economic development. I have a business that is two minutes away from the highway, before my business was 20 minutes away. I welcome the highway,” he said.
Ramai said the views expressed by Kublalsingh were not a reflection of the entire community, but a minority.
“He has his own personal agenda. There is nobody who can give a better report than the people who live here,” he said.
Ramai said the residents directly impacted by the construction of the highway were being fairly compensated.
Kublalsingh has been representing a section of the Debe population demanding that Government re-route the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the highway.
He said too many families were being affected by the construction.