MEMBERS of the Highway Re-Route Movement yesterday delivered a letter to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar at her residence in Phillipine, south Trinidad requesting that all work be stopped on the Debe to Mon Desir section of the Point Fortin Highway.
The group led by environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh is also requesting a meeting with Persad-Bissessar to discuss its recommendations for an alternative route using old Caroni lands near Mosquito Creek at La Romaine.
Before going to the Prime Minister's residence, members met in Debe where they claimed work has begun near the Debe intersection.
Told they were illegally at the site by security personnel, the group ventured on the land because, according to Kublalsingh, the land belonged to the people.
He said, "It was a symbolic act to show that we don't want any work there. We don't want any infrastructural work beginning there. We don't want any dirt removed from Mon Desir to Debe until the matter is seen before the High Court and the Prime Minister's review is completed and in any event residents have an alternative proposal and until the State very fairly looks at our alternative proposal and makes a decision."
Last Tuesday through a press release posted on social media network Facebook the group claimed that earth removal work was being done where its protest camp was demolished several months ago, and that land filling and flattening of the Oropouche Lagoon had also begun.
A notice to residents of Murray Trace in San Francique from OAS Construtora — the Brazilian company hired by the government to construct the highway — stated that "construction on the extension of Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway to Point Fortin began on September 18 and construction was expected to take place between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Mondays to Saturdays".
At Persad-Bissessar's home, the group parked their vehicles about 100 feet away from her residence and several women attempted to give the soldiers stationed at her home the letter to give to the Prime Minister but the soldiers refused.
Thirty minutes later, security personnel were entering the compound and the letter was given to them to give to Persad-Bissessar.
The security personnel told Kublalsingh and the group that Persad-Bissessar accepted the letter and said "thank you".
Kublalsingh said, "The content of the letter is basically that we want her to intervene and stop all works on the Mon Desir to Debe section of the highway pending a review, pending an assessment of our own re-route option and pending the court matter. Secondly we are asking her to intervene and stop works and also to meet with us because she had not really met with us and look at our re-route option which we think is the best for this vicinity in the area. It will save communities. It will save houses and it should save the government almost $4 billion."
Attorney Anil Maharaj writing on behalf of the group in a letter to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan stated, "You will appreciate that our clients' rights which they have sought to protect by filing a motion will be rendered nugatory if works are allowed to proceed prior to the determination of this motion. We wish at all cost to avoid having to approach the court for an order to protect our clients' rights. In the circumstances we call upon you to protect the integrity of the pending proceedings by giving an undertaking to cease all works pending the hearing and determination of our motion."
The group requested a response from Ramlogan in seven days. The letter was dated September 21.