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Residents still pleading for highway extension jobs

...want meeting with Minister

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

GUAPO residents continue to plead for jobs relating to the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension to Point Fortin project and for compensation for their bulldozed crops.

They are calling for a meeting with Works and Infrastructure Minister Suruj Rambachan and president of the National Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (Nidco) Dr Carson Charles.

Rambachan said he was aware of the residents’ concerns and would be willing to meet them.

Last Friday, residents held a meeting at the Guapo Community Centre to discuss their problems.

Spokesperson for the group Brennon Daniel said 20 persons were called in yesterday by OAS Construtora to undergo drug testing and orientation at the contractor’s main office in Golconda.

OAS Construtora is the main contractor for the multi-million dollar highway project.

Daniel said he was not sure if all those people will be employed because there were some who underwent similar exercises several months ago, but never hired.

Daniel said individuals were only being hired as labourers.

He said: “We are still agitated about the situation. There are skilled jobs these people are qualified for but they are not getting the proper jobs.”

Residents had also asked if people from the area could not be employed directly, sub-contractors from Guapo should be hired.

There were about 200 residents from Union Village, Vance River, Cochrane, Gonzalves Village, Central Village and Point Fortin seeking employment with the Brazilian contractor, Daniel said.

Rambachan told the Express yesterday: “Between La Brea and Point Fortin, 360 persons from the constituencies of La Brea and Point Fortin are already employed on the highway project and that is out of a total of the 1,043 persons who are local employees on the job. In addition a number of small contractors and sub-contractors are employed.”

Charles had said Nidco was trying to assist in any way it could, but OAS Construtora was mainly responsible for the hiring of workers and organising compensation.

He said last Friday that although OAS Construtora may not be able to hire people directly to work on the highway, through community outreach  programmes, residents should be able to obtain temporary employment.

However, Daniel said that was not enough.  He said such projects did not last long and it was unfair to residents.

“Why must we look for these type of projects when there is a project worth millions of dollar happening right here in our backyard?” he asked.

Rambachan said he has been in contact with Nidco and OAS Construtora discussing additional jobs that could be provided. He said some positions were created especially for residents of La Brea and Point Fortin.

Daniel also said crops were bulldozed months ago but to date, no compensation have been given to the crop owners whose livelihood was in their produce.

He said if they were not compensated, residents would replant crops therefore delaying work on the highway.

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