Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 15th 2014 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Under the watchful eyes of
police, protesters from Guapo
marched through two construction
zones in Golconda and Debe and
interrupted work on the Debe and
Golconda interchanges of the $7.4
billion Solomon Hochoy Highway
They started their protests at the
Debe site before moving to Golconda
and then to Mon Desir.
Some of the protesters chased
excavators and ordered the operators
off the site. Protester Natasha
Fletcher jumped inside a dump
truck transporting backfill and
switched off its engine. Looking
startled, the driver asked Fletcher
what was going on, but she
responded: "Doh ask no question.
Just clear out of here."
Another protester, Clevon Vespry,
climbed inside the bucket of a back-
hoe and sat down, while their leader
Brennan Daniel told OAS Constru-
tora country superintendent Rodrigo
Ventura to send all the workers
"We not taking this. We want we
money... else there will be no high-
way," Daniel shouted.
The OAS workers seemed only
too happy to leave the job site with
a few commenting that they needed
Ventura pleaded with Daniel to
allow the work to go on but he said
they would disrupt every job site
until they were adequately paid for
loss of crops and lands.
"We also want the Government
to give us lands with titles of own-
ership like they did for the people
bank and get loans," Daniel said.
He admitted that many of the
residents had no deeds to the land
as it was owned by Petrotrin but
added that the land had been cul-
tivated by Guapo residents for over
The protesters carried sheets of
paper listing all the crops that they
say were destroyed when OAS bull-
dozed the lands.
Curtis Matthews, who wore a
thick gold chain with his initials
engraved on it, said he lost $30,000
"I have three acres of land at
Cochrane planted with 37 breadfruit
trees, 100 lime trees, 150 ochro trees
and 200 sorrel trees, which they
mashed down. I want money for
that," Matthews said.
Asked if he owned the land, he
said he had been squatting on it for
the past ten years.
Melissa Sarju, who said she had
a deed, also called for relocation.
Another resident with teardrop tat-
toos on his face, who did not give
his name, said Nidco was paying
too little for compensation.
"They owe us $40,000 and
$50,000 but all they paying is
$9,000 and $12,000. We don t want
that," he shouted.
The OAS workers returned to
work after midday when the pro-
President of Nidco Dr Carson
Charles said yesterday there was an
ongoing problem with the claims
to the land, some of which could
not be substantiated.
"This seems to be an organised
protest. They are going to different
sites and are shutting down work.
We are trying to complete the tasks
ahead whilst dealing with these
claims but first every claim has to
be properly assessed," Charles said.
Asked if the project would suffer
cost overruns because of the work
stoppages, Charles said: "We are
managing the problem so right now
we do not have any cost overruns."
He said the timing of the protests
was "curious," but added he did not
want to speculate whether they were
Charles and his staff were expect-
ed to distribute cheques to affected
residents at the Guapo Community
Centre at 5 pm yesterday.
Police: Our hands tied
Senior police said yesterday they
could not interfere with the pro-
testers as they were peaceful. Asked
why they were being allowed to walk
through a construction zone without
protective gear, one officer said:
"All we are here to do is keep the
peace. Once they not breaking the
law, we cannot do anything."
First Response Service Ltd s
Markaso Ullina, who is in charge of
security operations at OAS, also said
it was dangerous for the residents
to walk through a construction zone
without proper safety gear.
"We have tried to advise them to
leave but they do not want to leave.
We were expecting assistance from
the police and we are still waiting.
We are trying to be reasonable with
them," Ullina added.
Chairman of the Equal Oppor-
tunity Commission (EOC)
Lynette Seebaran-Suite says
moves are afoot to have people
with lesbian, gay, bi-sexual,
transgender (LGBT) sexual ori-
entation protected from discrim-
ination under the Equal Oppor-
Speaking on the CNC3 Morning
Brew programme yesterday, See-
baran-Suite said there should be
no discrimination against those
She and the other commission-
ers were recently appointed and
she said the move was the first
policy decision of the new com-
She explained the process for
the proposed change, saying the
EOC will "recommend the change
to the Attorney General, he would
then take it to Cabinet and if it is
approved by the Cabinet, then it
will go to the Parliament to change
When the law was amended,
she explained, citizens could com-
plain if they were discriminated
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar said in New York last
month that T&T was nowhere
near ready to decriminalise homo-
sexuality as it was not legally pos-
"The draft gender policy came
to the Cabinet, discussed at length
and given the very divided voices
of T&T, it will not be prudent for
Government to proceed in that
direction... it s too divided. There
is no consensus on that issue,"
Persad-Bissessar said then.
But Seebaran-Suite said yester-
day the fears of politicians over
ending discrimination against
LGBT people "to a certain extent
have been laid to rest," adding that
a recent survey done by UN Aids
showed there was widespread sup-
port for ending discrimination
Protesters chase highway workers
Spokesman for protesting Guapo residents Brendon Julien, left, speaks to
OAS Construtora county superintendent Rodrigo Ventura at the Debe
interchange point of the extension of the Solomon Hochoy Highway to
Point Fortin yesterday. The residents forced work to be abandoned by their
actions yesterday. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
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EOC chairman: Move on to protect gays
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