Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 11th 2014 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
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Saturday, October 11, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Armed police escorted construction
workers out of a job site at Guapo yesterday,
as angry residents shut down the multi-
billion dollar highway, accusing Govern-
ment of bulldozing private lands and
destroying thousands of dollars in produce.
From 7 am, police from the Guapo and
Point Fortin stations, led by Cpl Seurattan
and including PCs Thompson, Meighoo,
Deosaran and Bedassie, were forced into
action after reports that workers were under
siege at the construction site at 8 Battery
Road, Guapo. The site is located in a forested
area on the Perseverance Estate, which is
owned by Petrotrin.
After shutting down the construction site,
protestors pushed down signs erected by
main contractor OAS Construtura. They pre-
vented water from being delivered to the
highway workers, as they called on the
National Infrastructure Development Com-
pany (Nidco) to compensate them for their
Spokesman Brendon Julien said over the
past two weeks OAS had been bulldozing
acres of land without their permission.
"They have cut down the forest hills,
almost 35 feet excavation without any con-
sultation," Julien said.
He said the initial route was not intended
to go through the forests in the Perseverance
"They changed the route without con-
sulting with us," he said.
Showing the EMA s Certificate of Envi-
ronmental Clearance, which he obtained
using the Freedom of Information Act, Julien
said the application was granted on May 12
but the application for the CEC was filed on
"How can they grant a CEC a day before
the application was filed?" Julien asked.
Keeno Andrews, who says he owns two
acres of land off Battery Road, said over 40
breadfruit trees, yams, chataigne and mangoes
"This is Divali and we normally sell in the
market. Now that they destroyed the trees,
we have nothing to get," Andrews said. Allister
Vesprey had a similar story. He said he spent
over $22,000 in fertilizer for his fruit trees
"They want to give us small money like
$5,000 and $8,000. Since I small I working
the land and now they come to bulldoze
everything," Vesprey said.
Merlisa Sarju said she had a deed for two
acres of land. She said since the bulldozing
started her home has been filled with dust.
She said a river at the back of her house was
also clogged and filled with mosquitoes.
"Chikungunya and dengue going around
and this is what we have to live with. It s
over 15 years now we planting the land and
now they just come here and take it away,"
Clifford James, who works at the Chagua-
nas market, said he was losing out on finances
because of the bulldozing.
"Normally, around Divali time I sell 25
bags of mangoes. Chataigne going for $7 per
pound. Nobody bothering to listen to us or
compensate us," James said.
He called on Nidco to meet with 32 res-
idents and organise their compensation.
The residents vowed that no work will be
done on the site unless they are compensated.
Nidco chairman Dr Carsen Charles said
yesterday that residents will be compensated
for their losses.
He said he signed off on 19 cheques on
Thursday, which will be distributed soon.
Saying there was no need to protest,
Charles said teams were also working in the
areas to verify claims. He said some discrep-
ancies had arisen in which workers of farmers,
farmers and land owners were all claiming
compensation for the same piece of land.
"It is not easy to distinguish between peo-
ple who farm land on their own land, on
Petrotrin land and those working on the
lands of farmers. This takes a while for us
to process, but most of the claims are ready,"
He added that every time there is a protest
the highway construction slows down because
the very people who will benefit from the
project were causing delays.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar broke
her silence on the impasse with environmentalist
Dr Wayne Kublalsingh on Thursday night. But
while she did not deal directly with the Highway
Re-route Movement leader s cause, she said she
did not want him to die.
"Some people think I have no heart," Persad-
Bissessar said during a cocktail reception in cele-
bration of Republic Day at the Diplomatic Centre,
St Ann s.
"But I am no monster. I do feel pain when it
comes to the sanctity of life. However, as your Prime
Minister I cannot operate or run my office based
on personal pain."
Persad-Bissessar told guests she did not initially
intend to speak on the subject, but felt compelled
to digress a little because it had become a contentious
The PM said earlier in the day she had met with
the Inter-religious Organisation to discuss some
method of going forward with respect to Kublalsingh
and the HRM s attempt to stop construction of the
Debe to Mon Desir leg of the Point Fortin Highway,
which she said was much needed. (See pages A4
"I met with the IRO today and I have asked them
to seek a meeting with Dr Kublalsingh to intercede,
and they have agreed to. Because from my heart,
knowing the sanctity of life and as a wife, a sister
and a human being, I don t think that anyone of
us here tonight wants a citizen to die," Persad-
She said her Government had challenges like all
other governments, but she has placed her faith in
the hands of God that this issue will work out to
benefit all involved.
"My conscience remains very clear about the
founding principles upon which this nation was
built," she added.
But Kublalsingh yesterday refused to end his
hunger strike, which entered its 24th day, despite
being visited by the members of the IRO.
Earlier Thursday night, Persad-Bissessar paid
special tribute to members of the protective services,
saying they were ones who worked tirelessly to keep
the nation safe. She also praised NGOs, charitable
organisations and faith-based bodies for their con-
tinued collaboration with the Government in working
to build better communities and improve the quality
of life for every citizen.
The belated celebration was held Thursday because
the PM was on New York on Republic Day attending
the United Nations General Assembly. She noted
that on Republic Day, although she was not home,
the pride of this great nation was still celebrated,
as she was fortunate enough to raise the T&T flag
high while delivering her Republic Day message in
Bowling Green Park, which is located in the Wall
Street district, the financial capital of the US.
She said this country had made giant leaps in its
52 years of independence and 38 years as a repub-
"We have truly come a long way as a nation, as
a democracy, but more importantly as a people.
And as we celebrate this milestone, we must chart
our way forward together. For together we aspire,
together we achieve," she declared.
PM doesn't want
Wayne to die...
I'm no monster
A photo in yesterday's paper (pA23) identified a
dangerous pole leaning over the Siparia Main Road as
a T&TEC pole. T&TEC has asked us to let readers know
that the pole belongs to TSTT. Our apologies for
assigning the pole to the wrong utility.
GET IT RIGHT
Work on Point highway hits snag...
Land owners block OAS
Members of the Shiv Shakti Dance Company entertain guests with a fan dance during the Caribbean Night Cultural presentation for
delegates of the VIII Americas Competitiveness Forum at the International Waterfront in Port-of-Spain on Thursday.
PHOTO: ANDRE ALEXANDER
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