Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 10th 2013 Contents B7
Thursday, October 10, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Programmable Logic Control - Level 2
Last week I had my first encounter
with Dr Wayne Kublalsingh and his fol-
Outside the Office of the Prime Minister
there were women in tears, their homes
on the verge of being bulldozed. Kublals-
ingh is unmovable in standing up for what
is right. His quest has brought notoriety,
his level of determination seems unprece-
dented in contemporary T&T society.
In 1996 we had our own Kublalsingh
in England. Swampy was his name, an
environmental activist who led a group
of protesters fighting the construction of
the Newbury Bypass, a nine-mile dual
carriageway around a town in Berkshire
in south-east England that cleared 360
acres of countryside, 150 acres of wood-
land and felled 10,000 trees.
Unlike T&T, where a handful of people
have rallied to Kublalsingh s cause, 7,000
activists joined the Newbury protest. Eight
hundred were arrested. Swampy and his
mates climbed trees and built treehouses
that they occupied for months claiming
The bypass was agreed by the govern-
ment in 1988 to ease traffic congestion.
The route ran through rolling countryside,
destroying wildlife habitats. To England s
environmentalists it was anathema. But
the road was completed by 1998, with an
extra £24 million added to the £100m
bill for security measures.
The UK government is at it again now,
authorising the High Speed Rail Network
(HS2). Construction will begin in 2017
and be completed by 2026 at a cost of £33 billion.
The route runs through areas of outstanding natural
beauty in the Chilterns and people s private land,
which will be acquired.
In England, and T&T, there are reasons for and
against enhancing transport links. Both countries
populations are expanding. In England people
want to get places fast. In T&T people don t want
to be stuck in traffic day after day.
But the Newbury bypass did not ease traffic, it
increased it. Nothing about the new San Fernando
to Point Fortin highway convinces me traffic will
be reduced. When people travel at the same time
every day, one person per car, with no car pool
lane, the result is gridlock.
As for removing people from their homes, I
hear: "It s always going to be somebody s home."
You might as well say, "As long as it s not my
home, I don t care." But if it was your home you d
be out there protesting with Kublalsingh.
There is a level of hypocrisy, of course. I am
opposed to building highways (they encourage car
travel which the planet doesn t need and they
destroy countryside) and yet I drive on highways.
Dr Kublalsingh drives on highways. These situ-
ations become heart-wrenching battles between
the needs of the many and the anguish of the few.
"I have the right to drive my car!" clamour the
motorists (90 per cent of the T&T adult popu-
lation). "I have the right to live in peace!" cry the
Kublalsingh s protest is peaceful. Motorways
are not peaceful. Try standing next to one. A con-
stant stream of cars 24 hours, day and night, cre-
ating a huge, endless noise of engines.
A brilliant documentary called The Secret Life
of the Motorway was broadcast on BBC television
in 2007. You can find it on YouTube. It charts the
social impact of motorways since their inception.
The first British motorway, the M1, which runs
from London to Leeds was built between 1959
and 1968. In those post-war years the "baby boom"
generation rapidly expanded the population.
Visionaries planned an expansion of Britain s infra-
structure. The green and pleasant land was built
For those whose land fell in the way of the bull-
dozers, whose lives would be blighted or displaced,
it was a vision of impending horror. Naturalists
saw destruction and pollution, as they did when
the first railways were built in the Victorian era.
Industrialists saw progress, speed, change. It is
impossible to halt the endless march of time, the
spread of concrete and tarmac, and you cannot
change the past.
It would be a shame if T&T became one giant
network of highways like the UK. There are already
too many cars in T&T, and no trains.
Whilst I am opposed to Britain s HS2 rail net-
work, I know rail transport is greener and more
pleasant than car travel.
Regular services carrying thousands of Trinis,
gliding from north, south, east and west is a more
endearing image than an island of bumper-to-
bumper gas fumes.
One of my oldest friends is a committed envi-
ronmental activist. I would be too, if I could be
bothered. The trouble is, like most of us, I m lazy
even though I know it s the right thing to do.
Thank God Dr Kublalsingh is not lazy. He won t
win this battle, but he has no choice but to keep
on fighting. It s about more than just Mon Desir
to Debe. It s about the direction the country is
Plains, trains and automobiles
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