FORMER attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of betraying those who voted for her and challenged her to adhere to the recommendations of the Highway Review Committee (HRC).
Maharaj, speaking at a public forum hosted by the Highway Re-Route Movement (HRM) at City Hall in Port of Spain, said Persad-Bissessar publicly promised to abide by the findings of the HRC when the committee was formed just over three months ago and mandated to produce an independent review of the extension of the Uriah Butler Highway into Point Fortin.
He said the PM's declaration was considered, in public law, a "legitimate expectation".
Accusing the Government of being a body of lies, Maharaj said Trinidad and Tobago needs more people like Re-Route Movement leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh to keep corruption in check.
"This is not a Government of trust," Maharaj said, adding that "big projects" like the highway extension were an opportunity for corruption to fester.
Maharaj claimed the Government wanted to use its own funds for the project because funds acquired through loans are closely monitored and do not facilitate corruption.
The Debe-to-Mon Desir leg of the highway is under dispute, with the HRM opposing the relocation of hundreds of residents and claiming the work will render significant environmental damage.
Kublalsingh, an environmental activist and lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI), staged a 21-day hunger strike last December at the doorstep of the Prime Minister's St Clair office, asking her to stop and review the project.
The State eventually agreed to slow down some phases of the project while the HRC, appointed by the Joint Select Committee and led by chairman James Armstrong, conducted an examination.
The HRC has recommended that the project be stopped until some conditions are met.
The committee found, among other issues, the environmental and social impact assessments required for a project of that magnitude were sorely lacking and it questioned the decision of the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) to grant a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) for the project.
The EMA has since defended its decision, saying the CEC contained many conditionalities, and this would have been explained had the HRC consulted with the authority.
Maharaj waded into the People's Partnership, referring to it as an "eat-ah-food" Government.
He said the United National Congress (UNC), including Persad-Bissesar and Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, once fought against the use of agricultural land for any other purpose and they had now reneged on promises made then.
He then called out former Congress of the People (COP) leader Winston Dookeran and current leader Prakash Ramadhar, telling them they should step forth and defend the "new politics" they once touted on the electoral platform.
Maharaj, who is part of the legal team on behalf of the HRM, which has challenged the project in court, vowed to ensure Persad-Bissessar obeys the recommendations of the HRC.
Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader David Abdulah, delivering a short address, called for legislation to regulate the financing of political parties, saying most big government projects were linked to financiers.
Speaking briefly, Kublalsingh renewed his commitment to seeing the project brought to a halt.
Wednesday's forum was chaired by Port of Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing.