Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 16th 2014 Contents GEISHA KOWLESSAR
Despite nearly four hours of intense dis-
cussions between Government and mem-
bers of civil society organisations, the con-
troversial Debe to Mon Desir section of
the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway
will go on.
And there is also no need for mediation,
Works Minister Surujrattan Rambachan said
The meeting, which was chaired by Ram-
bachan, also included Minister in the Min-
istry of Works Stacy Roopnarine, head of
the National Infrastructure Development
Company of T&T (Nidco) Dr Carson Charles
and Doolar Ramlal, director of health and
safety in the Works Ministry. It was held
at the ministry s head office at Richmond
Initially, some 29 civil society groups had
supported the Highway Re-Route Movement
(HRM) in its call for mediation and further
dialogue but that figure has now grown to
41.The specific areas of concern raised by
the groups in a letter were:
1. That Government properly considers
the Armstrong report and recommendations.
2. That Government give serious consid-
eration to the new proposal by the HRM as
an alternative to the construction of the
Debe to Mon Desir Highway.
3. All further work be halted on the Debe
to Mon Desir Highway only but work could
proceed apace on the San Fernando to Point
At the start of yesterday s meeting, Ram-
bachan made it clear the matter was before
the court and was therefore subjudice.
Paula Lucie-Smith, founder of the Adult
Literacy Tutors Association (ALTA), said
civil society groups were not technical
experts and as such they could not assess
any particular aspect of the Armstrong
Report and were also unable to pronounce
on the optimum connectivity proposal which
the HRM wanted implemented as an alter-
"Our concern as civil society is the process
and this will help us to be able to live together
in our communities. We are not here to dis-
cuss the merits or demerits of any particular
roadway system," Lucie-Smith said.
There were tense moments during the
meeting, as Rambachan pressed civil society
members to state exactly what they wanted,
noting they kept repeating they were not
technical experts and could make no pro-
"I came with the technical team and I
made it very clear those are the three points
to discuss and they came to say that s not
what they want," Rambachan said.
"They want to discuss the process... the
process about what? The highway or about
general development and there was no clear
answer with regard to that also but I had
a duty to meet with them.
"I don t see the need for mediation. What
I see is civil society asking three particular
questions and we came to respond."
Charles, in referring to the Armstrong
Report, said there was never an agreement
on Nidco s part to abide by it. He said it
was the Joint Consultative Council (JCC)
which decided to publish the report and
make public statements on the issue.
Political leader of the Movement for Social
Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah, who was also
present, said another step was needed, as
there were different judgments on technical
issues which required determination to the
satisfaction of the country.
But some civil society representatives also
described yesterday s meeting as a "charade",
adding that they were forced to listen to a
presentation from the Government on the
merits of its objectives.
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Leader of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen Yasin Abu
Bakr was denied entry to Jamaica last night and
then detained there. He is expected to be deported
back to T&T today.
Bakr had reportedly left Port-of-Spain for Jamaica
to attend the Million Man March event at the
National Arena, Kingston, on Sunday. The event is
being hosted for the first time outside the United
States and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan
is slated to speak.
On his Facebook page yesterday, Abu Bakr s son,
Fuad, said his father was to be a guest of Farrakhan
and was also using the opportunity to visit one of
his daughters at the Mona Campus of the University
of the West Indies.
But shortly after disembarking from the Caribbean
Airlines flight at the Norman Manley International
Airport, he was denied entry and taken into custody,
RJR News reported.
Sources told the T&T Guardian earlier that Abu
Bakr was initially handcuffed and put on board
flight BW457, which was due to return to Piarco
shortly after 9 pm last night.
But minutes later he was taken off the flight and
detained by authorities in Kingston. Abu Bakr report-
edly protested noisily when detained by the Jamaican
officials and tried to insist on being allowed to
attend the event. The flight left without him.
Contacted yesterday, National Security Minister
Gary Griffith denied Bakr s detention was an act
of retaliation by the Jamaican authorities over T&T s
refusal to allow entry to 13 Jamaicans last week.
Griffith is expected to meet with Jamaican officials
to discuss that issue.
Griffith said the Jamaican authorities have a right
to deny entry into their country anyone they con-
sidered to be a national security.
He said the granting of a CSME certificate "does
not prevent the authorities from denying entry to
anyone who was considered to be a national security
threat into any Caribbean state.
"No one must be allowed to walk into another
state as if he has a divine right to do so with a
CSME certificate," he added.
A statement from Jamaica s National security
Ministry yesterday said Abu Bakr was refused entry
under Section 4 (1) h of the Immigration Restriction
(Commonwealth Citizens) Act, which states:
"The following Commonwealth citizens (not
being persons deemed to belong to the Island as
defined by sub-section (2) of section 2) are prohibited
(h) any person who, from information or advice
which in the opinion of the Minister is reliable
information or advice, is deemed by the minister
to be an undesirable inhabitant of or visitor to the
It said the decision was taken in the interest of
national security, given the present threat posed to
Jamaican media reported last night that arrange-
ments were being made for Abu Bakr to spend the
night at the Horizon Adult Remand Centre or the
Gun Court Rehab Centre.
Thursday, October 16, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Abu Bakr refused
entry to Jamaica
Highway meeting flops
Supporter of the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway, activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj,
sits in the rain on day one of his hunger strike along Gray Street, St Clair, yesterday.
Maharaj is calling on Highway Re-route Movement Leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh to end
his hunger strike and will not end his unless Kublalsingh complies. PHOTO: MICHEAL BRUCE
Hunger strike continues
Contacted yesterday, HRM leader Dr
Wayne Kublalsingh said he would not
budge from his hunger strike as nothing
solid or meaningful has been offered by
The environmentalist also reiterated his
call for mediation.
Saying he was not disappointed at the
outcome of yesterday s meeting between
the Government and civil society bodies,
Kublalsingh said he was still hopeful an
alternative route would be taken into con-
sideration. He also maintained that wet-
lands would be adversely affected by Gov-
ernment s plan.
"Our position is the Prime Minister has
promised to put it on hold and review it.
She is yet to do that and so the strike
continues," Kublalsingh said.
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