Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 18th 2014 Contents A5
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Plans are on stream to build an inter-
change at the insection of the Western
Main Road and the Diego Martin Highway
to alleviate traffic woes in west Trinidad.
Director of Highways Roger Ganesh said
so yesterday as the Ministry of Works and
Infrastructure had to reverse its decision to
close off the west-to-east bowtie of the
Western Main Road in Cocorite early yes-
The decision came after fiery protests
began around 5 am yesterday. It lasted several
Ganesh said the interchange, which is
expected to start in June next year, would
take two to three years to complete.
He also dismissed claims that there were
no consultations with residents, saying even
before the Diego Martin Highway extension
was constructed, several discussions were
held on the new traffic changes in west
Burning piles of debris, angry residents
said the intersection was used by thousands
of drivers and people who live in Cocorite
Terrace, Waterhole, Harding Place, Nile
Street and environs, and Fort George.
As a result of the protest, thousands of
drivers, commuters and schoolchildren head-
ing into Port-of-Spain sat for hours in
bumper-to-bumper traffic, stretching as
far back as Carenage and Petit Valley.
Sue Richardson, who lives in Westmoor-
ings, and whose son attends Holy Name
Prep School, Port-of-Spain, said the traffic
situation was very frustrating. She said she
normally drops off her son just in time for
the 7am assembly, but yesterday he arrived
at school just after 8 am.
Some protesters, who shouted obscenities
and with arms flailing, accused the Gov-
ernment of being underhanded by not con-
sulting with them before any decision was
One of the protesters, Ricardo Herbert,
said residents had no choice but to take
"Some 30,000 households would be
affected," he said. "There are also two hos-
pitals in the area and the Lady Hochoy
Home, which would also be affected, a lot
of business on the left and the right.
"We ask that it not be blocked off. This
is a safe turnoff. It has been here since 1963,
when the highway was built.
He explained that blocking the turnoff
meant a long drive for those who needed
to turn east.
"What they do now is taking us all the
way down to Four Roads (Diego Martin),
which is a mile down and a mile up, and
now we have to endure the traffic both on
a morning and on an evening to go in and
out of our homes," Herbert said.
The residents, however, praised National
Security Minister Gary Griffith who they
said was instrumental in the reopening of
PNM leader Keith Rowley has misinter-
preted the Constitution and made incorrect,
irresponsible statements on the general elec-
tion process, Attorney General Anand Ram-
logan said yesterday.
"It is important that I correct the reckless
and irresponsible statements made by the
Opposition Leader regarding the provisions in
the Constitution that govern the general election
process," said Ramlogan.
Ramlogan noted that Rowley, speaking at
last Sunday s PNM Convention, declared that
the current five-year term of People s Part-
nership government ends on June 17, 2015 and
that the subsequent 90-day provision for calling
election could only be used in cases of emer-
Ramlogan, however, said: "Rowley demon-
strates an astonishing and disturbing failure
to grasp the basic rules of the Constitution. It
is yet another display of his constant disregard
for the law. That a prime ministerial aspirant
could so easily misrepresent the Constitution
for selfish political gain is troublesome.
"In his usual haste to exert unnecessary
political pressure on the Government to call
election, Dr Rowley again traps himself in yet
another embarrassing and humiliating intel-
lectual quagmire from which it is becoming
increasingly difficult to extricate himself. His
inability to understand and interpret even the
basic structures of the Constitution acts as a
truly powerful and frightening reminder that
he is simply not fit to lead in any capacity."
Saying the Constitution is clear on the time-
lines for calling a general election, Ramlogan
said Section 68(2) states that Parliament stands
dissolved five years after its first sitting---which
in this case is on June 17, 2015---and a general
election must be held within 90 days there-
Ramlogan said: "This means the next general
election can and must be held at any time
prior to September 17, 2015.
"This 90-day provision has nothing to with
emergencies as erroneously claimed by the
Opposition Leader. This period was designed
to allow the Prime Minister a degree of political
flexibility in setting the date. It also permits
the EBC and political parties time to put the
necessary administrative arrangements in place
to facilitate the election.
"This provision has been a part of our elec-
tion process since Independence and was
retained in our Republican Constitution.
"Dr Rowley appears to suffer from political
amnesia, as he conveniently ignores the fact
that almost every single past Prime Minister
has utilised this 90-day provision to call general
election, including Dr Eric Williams and George
Chambers (1981, 1986) to Basdeo Panday (2000)
and Patrick Manning (2007)."
Ramlogan asked: "If Dr Rowley applies his
flawed logic to his own election as a Member
of Parliament, the following questions arise:
did he also question the nature of the emer-
gencies in the general elections of 2000 and
2007, both of which occurred within the 90-
day period, and in which he was twice elected
as an MP?
"If indeed there were no such emergencies,
does this mean that his own election as a Mem-
ber of Parliament was null, void and uncon-
Gridlock as Cocorite residents protest road closure...
National Security Minister Gary Griffith,
who arrived just after the protest began,
said no unlawful act would be condoned.
He said: "I listened very carefully to what
the residents had to say and some of them
were very passionate in their views. But
blocking the road and preventing hundreds
of other drivers is not the answer and I
made that very clear, apart from which,
there may be people with medical issues
who were caught in the traffic."
He said: "Citizens should not resort to
taking the law into their own hands. This
sort of action is tantamount to disrespect
and could have dire consequences."
Acting Senior Supt Ishmael David said
police spoke to residents and listened to
their concerns. He said as far as he was
aware there had been "no major accidents"
in that immediate area.
Griffith said the concerns of the
residents were legitimate as well as
concerns of national security.
Minister of Works and Infrastructure
Suruj Rambachan said the decision to block
the turnoff came from a safety concern.
Saying he hoped people would have
given it at least a couple of days,
Rambachan said: "When you do these
traffic changes, you do it with objectives in
mind and one of those objectives is to
improve the whole safety situation by that
Cocorite residents block the
eastbound carriageway of the
Western Main Road to protest the
closure over the weekend of the
west-to-east bowtie of the Western
Main Road in Cocorite early
yesterday. PHOTO: MICHEAL BRUCE
MP: people upset
In an e-mailed response Dr Amery
Browne, MP for Diego Martin Central, said
on Saturday the ministry completely
closed off the highway, just a few hours
after street signs were erected telling
drivers they could not use that turnabout.
Browne said he and the councillor for
Petit Valley/Cocorite, Roxanne Long, had
strongly disagree with the way this change
was effected, as the Ministry of Works
initiated no specific meeting or discussion
with the most affected residents on the
impact the measure would have on them
and their families.
"These same residents accommodated
and adjusted to a range of changes over
the past few months in order to facilitate
the improvement of the highway and
roadway system in the area," he said, "but
are of the view that this weekends's
closure introduces an unacceptable degree
of challenge to their activities of daily
He said they were worried that the
change would increase their transport
costs and travel time, lead to emergency
vehicles taking longer to arrive, and that it
meant they now had to go further west or
north to get home and to pass through
areas with more traffic.
Browne called on the Government to
hold specific discussions with those
affected by the closure, including
representatives of the taxi drivers.
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