Sunday, December 17, 2017

South business all for the highway


Two sides: Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, one of the attorneys for the Highway Re-Route Movement, is surrounded by supporters of the highway as he leaves the Hall of Justice, Port of Spain yesterday. See Pages 5 and 9 —Photo: ANISTO ALVES

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support: Human rights activist Ishmael Samad, right, chats with environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh on day 15 of Kublalsingh's hunger strike outside the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair yesterday. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

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BUSINESS leaders living in Penal, Debe, Siparia, and Point Fortin agreed yesterday the proposed highway that will link the communities should be built as soon as possible, using whatever route necessary, as long as proper technical studies were conducted.

And Point Fortin Mayor Clyde Paul called again for construction on the highway to begin in Point Fortin.

Vice-president of the Point Fortin Chamber of Commerce Rayan Rampersad said he agreed with Paul. He said the three business chambers affected had met to discuss the issue and another meeting was planned.

He said there should be additional dialogue between the activists and the Government.

"There is nothing wrong with listening and there is nothing wrong with continuing dialogue. The dialogue is not there."

Rampersad said: "We do not want to make enemies of anybody in any particular area. We do not want to make enemies with other villages like Siparia or Penal or even people who are living in the 'Re-Route' area."

Sahid Hosein, president of the Penal/Debe Chamber of Commerce, said: "We have always supported the construction of the highway provided that all the ecological, hydrological and engineering studies were done. And once the highway is built in conformance with those, we do not have  a problem with those because the highway brings development into all the areas they will touch."

Hosein said there are some concerns with the route being proposed by the Highway Re-route Movement (HRM) because "the alternative route does not provide a service for Penal, Siparia and Fyzabad, if I am correct."

However, Hosein said he admired Dr Wayne Kublalsingh who is fighting against the establishment of the Debe to Mon Desir route.

"In terms of what Mr Kublalsingh is doing, he feels as if he has a point and unlike a lot of us he is expressing his point of view in a way that is there for all to see. Even if you don't agree with him, you have to admire the position that he has taken. He is prepared to make sacrifices for what he believes in."

Keith Sankar, president of the Siparia Chamber of Commerce, said there were problems associated with the route proposed by the HRM.

"We don't know if one man's action can change the agenda or change the course of action."

Sankar said the majority of citizens in the south-western peninsula wanted the highway and wanted it near existing communities.