Monday, January 22, 2018

‘Tyre of shame’ on PM’s gate

Re-Routers protest


SPECIAL AWARD: Highway Re-Route Movement activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh and other members of the Re-Route Movement tie a tyre with a red piece of material on the gate of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s home at Phillipine, San Fernando, yesterday. At right, the tyre hangs on the gate of the PM’s home. —Photos: INNIS FRANCIS

Mark Fraser

THE Highway Re-Route Movement has accused Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of misconduct in public office, as she has failed to abide by the recommendations of the Highway Review Committee on the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin.

And to highlight her actions, members of the Movement, led by environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh, yesterday marched to Persad-Bissessar’s private residence in Phillipine, near San Fernando, and placed a “tyre of shame” on her front gate. The old car tyre was tied with a piece of red cloth.

“This is a badge of misconduct which we give to the Prime Minister,” said Kublalsingh. “This badge comes in the form of a tyre and a red cloth and we are going to hang it on her gate as a symbol that she’s misconducting herself in public office. And all the officers who are related to this project in the next three weeks we will be giving them that same tyre in front of their homes.”

He said Minister of Works and Infrastructure Surujrattan Rambachan and Finance Minister Larry Howai would be among the recipients of the badge of misconduct.

The group gathered near Persad-Bissessar’s home around midday and marched to the front gates, which were closed.

Kublalsingh, assisted by members of the Movement, fastened the tyre on the front gate. They remained outside the gates for about ten minutes before walking away.

Apart from a single motorist who stopped to chase Kublalsingh and his followers away, no one attempted to stop the group.

T&T Regiment soldiers, stationed at Persad-Bissessar’s home, did not emerge to question the gathering. The tyre was removed about 15 minutes later by the soldiers. San Fernando police were also informed of the incident.

Kublalsingh said residents impacted by the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the highway were disappointed that work was ongoing at the site although the matter was being heard before the High Court.

“This is a disturbing development and we think this Government is behaving like a rogue government. They are guilty of misconduct in public office. This matter is before the High Court and the State has asked Justice (James) Aboud to recuse himself three times. They are using delay tactics to conduct work on the site without judicial interference,” he said.

Aboud was asked to recuse himself from presiding over the matter involving members of the Re-Route Movement, on the basis of apparent bias.

Since November 18 last year, State attorneys have been attempting to have the judge remove himself from the matter after his brother, environmentalist Gary Aboud, was arrested during protests by the fishing community.

Members of the Re-Route Movement are seeking a conservatory order to stop works along the Debe to Mon Desir link of the highway extension.

Farmer Harrypersad Dookie said the highway was passing through agricultural land which could have been used to produce food. 

He said the Government failed to abide by the Highway Review Committee’s report to have proper surveys and tests conducted in the area.

Pastor Imtiaz Ali said he too was against the construction of the highway as it impacted his church.

 “The church is in the pathway of the highway. I am not asking to stop the highway project, just re route the highway so we can keep our church. This is going to destroy our congregation and communities,” he said.