Monday, February 19, 2018

Rowley visits activist


Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley

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Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley may step in to help end environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh's hunger strike. Rowley paid a surprise visit to Kublalsingh's camp outside the Prime Minister's office in St Clair yesterday, but while he refused to speak to the media, he had a quiet conversation with Kublalsingh, asking him what it would take to end the hunger strike.

During the ten-minute meeting between the two, Kublalsingh said he met with the group months ago and was ignored.

"The people have become exhausted, Dr Rowley. These are not militant people, these are ordinary civilians and they have put down so many actions but this Government has become so insensitive," Kublalsingh said.

Kublalsingh told Rowley he would "really like" to meet with him and the parliamentary caucus to present the position of the Highway Re-Route Movement.

"In addition to that, I know that you are a man of integrity and I would really look at it (highway plan) and see if it makes financial sense," he said.

He told Rowley he wanted the Prime Minister to organise an inter-group committee, which included people outside the Government umbrella, including members of his team and lecturers at the University of the West Indies, to ensure a balanced review.

"If that is done and it is properly executed, we will accept whatever are the results of that committee," he said.

Rowley pointed out that the Minister of Works, Emmanuel George, had said those conditions have already been met, but Kublalsingh refuted that immediately.

"No, they met with us and we decided that to form a committee with two persons from our side and seven from their side. That's not acceptable. I am not an expert so we decided to not participate.

"What they have done is a rehash of the old ideas. There was no scientific data for that. There is no cost-benefit analysis of that," Kublalsingh said.

Rowley told Kublalsingh he would like to see and find "some common ground" in this situation.

"I am not very happy when I hear that you are prepared to take extreme action in order to get the Government to meet and treat with the situation," Rowley said.

"I hope that this will come to an end, but I cannot tell the Government how to conduct its political business, but I can suggest to the Government how to conduct its national business," he said.

"We would make our suggestions because these projects have an impact, and the impact of these projects are as important as the conceptualisation of them," Rowley said to the activist.

Rowley told Kublalsingh that as soon as he was "up and about" he and his caucus would meet with the Highway Re-Route Movement and "start from scratch" to get their voices heard.

"It should never come to this. God forbid that you lay your life down for this and I hope that my colleague in Cabinet understands this," he said.