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Reckless move

Re-Route group angry over demolition of 18 homes:

By Sue-Ann Wayow sue-ann.wayow@trinidadexpress.com

MEMBERS of the Highway Re-Route Movement are angered 18 homes were demolished in the past three weeks pending a court decision on the extension of Solomon Hochoy Highway to Point Fortin.
Yesterday, group members, led by Dr Wayne Kublal­singh, held an interfaith service and news conference at the campsite at Debe Trace, Gandhi Village, to address the matter.
Kublalsingh described the bulldozing action as reckless.
However, Dr Carson Charles, president of the National Infrastructural Development Company (Nidco), justified the State’s decision to demolish the houses, saying the owners gave their consent.
And there was nothing unlawful about the action, he added.
The areas where the homes were demolished were San Francique Road, Gopee Trace, Suchit Trace, Debe Trace, Oropouche River Bank North and South, Debe Trace and Gandhi Village, said movement member Sherene Boodhai.
In February, the Highway Re-Route Movement applied for an interim conservatory order in order to prevent the State from continuing work on the Debe-to-Mon Desir section of the highway.
“We would have thought in the faith of that injunction, in the faith of a court matter of a very serious nature, the Government would have held its hand and awaited the court decision. They did no such thing.
“Over the last three weeks, they went ahead and bulldozed all the 18 homes. Most of the buildings are valued over $2.5 million,” said Kublalsingh.
He said at the end of the month, Justice James Aboud is expected to give his ruling on the matter.
“Let us assume that Justice James Aboud grants us an injunction against this highway. What will the Prime Minister tell the people? We regard this action by the State as reckless,” Kublalsingh added.
Charles said owners of homes which were demolished cooperated with the State and only Kublalsingh and a small group of his followers were showing resistance.
The homeowners all received compensation, he added.
And he said the State was offering additional incentives to homeowners. These included transportation, rental payments and storage for their belongings.
But the State still has met resistance from some. One is Ballyram Siew, who lives at Gopee Trace.
Siew, 72, said if his house has to be destroyed, he will be destroyed with it.
“Some have to die in order to save some,” he said.
Siew, who is refusing to move to other locations, added: “They (the Government) will have to bulldoze me and my entire family if they want to bulldoze my house.”
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