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Roopnarine: 50 owners already compensated

By Carolyn Kissoon

The National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) is being transparent in the construction of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin, according to Minister of Works and Infrastructure Emmanuel George.

And Minister in the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure Stacy Roopnarine said 50 families in her constituency, Oropouche West, have already been compensated for lands in the path of the highway.

George said he was confident in the work being undertaken by Nidco, as engineers have been working on the project for more than a decade.

He said studies on the San Fernando-to-Point Fortin segment of the highway were completed back in 1999.

Speaking at the United National Congress (UNC) Monday-night forum meeting in Penal, George said: "What we effectively said today [at the meeting with the Joint Consultative Council (JCC) and Government] is we have nothing to hide.

"We have confidence in the work done by Nidco and in the engineers who have been performing on this project for more than a decade. The studies were completed way back in 1999."

He said the documents relating to the controversial Debe-to-Mon Desir segment of the highway were handed over to the president of the JCC, Afra Raymond, on Monday.

"I want to thank the Prime Minister for her confidence and the help she provided today in our negotiations with the JCC, which resulted in us coming to a conclusion at the meeting.

"The JCC now has a remit to study all of those documents, which were handed to the JCC today... to study those and to comment and present its findings to Nidco on the highway extension to Point Fortin and, in particular, the Debe-to-Mon Desir segment."

George said he will not be distracted by the hurdles thrown in his way by supporters of the People's National Movement. He said he will remain focused and continue to deliver on promises made to citizens.

"This Ministry of Works and Infrastructure is really a difficult ministry and I have come to experience the difficulty, having been here for some five months.

"The difficulties don't have to do with the amount of work, because you can take that in stride, but really because of the amount of hurdles that people try to throw in your way," he said.

Roopnarine showed the audience a stack of documents containing feasibility studies, consultations and designs on the highway to Point Fortin. She said consultations on the project began before 2006.

"I was provided with a document showing persons who attended the consultation and, interestingly enough, there are persons who are speaking today that never saw it fit to speak then. Is it because the issues today were not relevant then?"

Roopnarine said she would be an irresponsible parliamentary representative to leave her constituency out of the country's development.

"We have cried neglect in this southern region. For years we have accused government after government of neglecting the southern region.

"Today your Government is saying that we have taken the largest infrastructure project ever to be done in the history of this country and brought it right here in the south-western peninsula."

Roopnarine assured residents the highway would not pass through the Debe market, destroy the historical Banwari Trace archaeological site or cause flooding in the area.

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