Report Backs Debe Section of the Highway

An excavator at work at Monteil Trace, Fyzabad, the site of the proposed Fyzabad Interchange, which is part of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension to Point Fortin - Photo by DEXTER PHILIP

GOVERNMENT has announced a commission of enquiry into more than half a billion dollars allegedly spent on land acquisition for the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway Extension, under the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration.

National Security Minister Stuart Young said on Thursday that the commission is to be chaired by former Justice Sebastien Ventour and will be tasked with investigating apparent "unjustifiable" expenses incurred by the State for lands, some of which is no longer needed for the project.

The commission is to report on any impropriety in the acquisition of lands for the project, with Young saying a Ministry of Woks and Transport report showed one individual having land valued at $50 million for land no longer needed, but who was now making a further $30 million claims against the State.

Young, who said taxpayers had been subjected to wastage, said payments for land acquired for the highway extension will now be placed on hold, as the State waits to see whether any criminal proceedings arise out of the recommendations of the commission.

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Speaking at the post-Cabinet briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St. Ann's, said the MOWT report had shown that one particular public servant involved in the process had conducted land valuations in a private capacity and had then returned at another stage to increase his own valuations.

Ventour is to be assisted by former president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Reginald Armor, who will be assisted by attorneys Rishi Dass and Vanessa Gopaul.

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