Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 13th 2013 Contents A11
October 13, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
• Continued from Page A10
Indeed, many residents say they
were approached as if relocation were
inevitable, and as if they had no choice
in the huge matter of leaving their
The Chaitoos have already lost one
family member through a heart attack,
which they say was caused by the
stress of the impending destruction
of his home and way of life.
"At 81, he couldn t cope with the
idea to move and rebuild," a relative
"We don t need a highway through
here," said a male resident. "With
existing road networks, it takes just
five to seven minutes to get to a main
artery. It takes five to ten minutes to
get to the intersection at South
Oropouche, and five to seven minutes
to get to Dow Junction. So why break
up our villages and homes?
"We don t need a highway here. We
can t keep adding cars to the roads,
to add to more congestion. What we
need is major bus terminals in each
"Mosquito Creek floods every year,
once the tide is high," commented a
female resident. "With this new Debe-
Mon Desir Highway, cutting right
through the lagoon, where will the
"Trinidad is a small country," said
another resident. "So the land is valu-
able. Price and valuation is based on
land use. The first thing the authorities
should have done is to acquire the land
properly. They did not do that."
In any event, many if not most res-
idents do not want to sell their land,
he said. "Some people here have land
titles from 1931, from 1942, even from
the 1800s...God ent making no more
land. Indian people does fight for their
land!" he said passionately.
"Right now it seems the authorities
are trying to manipulate land acqui-
sitions and private treaties to have the
leverage of investors to swing money
back into their own pockets," com-
mented one man.
Residents feel deeply betrayed by
the Kamla Persad-Bissessar-led Gov-
ernment for imposing this highway
project on them, depriving them of
their homes and their community way
of life, and expressed this in strong
A member of the Boodhai family,
who lives in the Salt Mine Trace-Tim-
ital area, shared: "My husband has ten
DEBE TO MON DESIR HIGHWAY
A machine operator climbs down from the steamroller as Highway Re-Route activists
form a human barricade at the construction site of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the
Solomon Hochoy Highway last Wednesday. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
Work continues on the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension, after
protesters were cleared off the site on Wednesday.
acres of land. The land was shared
by my father-in-law to all his
"Now they send us Section 4
Land Acquisition papers. They
posted it to us. The first letter
said surveyors were coming and
we had to show them our deeds."
It s made the family angry and
"We had sleepless nights.
Around October 2012, they would
bring tractors in the middle of the
night, trespassing on our private
land. One night they came in at
10 pm, and left equipment. So we
moved it out! Tractors, excavators,
everything: we broke down their
tent and we moved it out," said
another female resident.
Suresh Chaitoo, a 53-year-old
landowner, said of the Govern-
ment: "They have not contributed
anything to this community. They
are just trying to take things from
"Truly watch this area, from
Mon Desir to Fyzabad straight up
to Debe. We have been historically
neglected, for generations. Fyzabad
used to be a country within a
country: one part, with good facil-
ities and manicured lawns, for the
oil expats; and the rest of the area,
with almost nothing developed,
for the rest of us.
"So we did for ourselves....
Whether Hindu or Muslim, our
ancestors came here and united
as Jahaaji Bhai---boat brothers---
to build our communities for our-
"We never asked the Govern-
ment for anything. We built our
own temples and mosques and
churches and roads, we built our
own houses. It s not just our
homes; it s our ancestral homes.
We had to live in dirt and thatched
roof at first, and we suffered, but
we built our communities up for
ourselves over many years.
"The only government man
who ever did anything for us was
Arthur Sanderson, under the NAR.
He helped with roads, and assisted
in providing pipe-borne water...
our supply was terrible and we
had to use water pumps which
kept burning out. He helped us."
"But now," said Chaitoo,
"Kamla wants to be the Maharajin
(great Hindu queen). She is play-
ing queen to break up the area.
She is showing us total disrespect."
NEXT WEEK: Government's rationale
for the project
Residents feel betrayed
They have not
contributed anything to
this community. They
are just trying to take
things from us.
We never asked the
anything. We built our
own temples and
mosques and churches
and roads, we built our
own houses. It's not just
our homes; it's our
---SURESH CHAITOO, RESIDENT
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