Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 14th 2014 Contents A14
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Work along the San Fernando to Point Fortin
Highway has hit another snag as Point Fortin res-
idents have stopped Brazilian construction firm
Construtora OAS from excavating lands along the
right of way.
Since July 7, work on the Point Fortin leg of the
highway has been at a standstill after a group of
Gonzales and Cochrane residents held a protest at
the construction site. Residents said Government's
promise of employment has not reached Point Fortin,
instead people from areas such as Penal, Debe and
Barrackpore were given all the jobs.
In a press conference at the Guapo Community
Centre in Point Fortin yesterday, spokesperson Techi-
er/Guapo councillor Sherwin St Hillare said Point
Fortin residents were being discriminated against.
"What we are seeing daily since this project started
from Point Fortin is that not a single individual from
the area has been hired to work on the project in the
Point Fortin area. The few people that have been
called in, they have sent them out of Point Fortin to
Oropouche and La Romaine, so that by the time they
calculate any salary deduction, most of their money
is going in passage.
"It is alleged that there are people who placed
their addresses as Point Fortin and after investigations,
that was not the fact. The residents took a decision
to stop the project, citing discriminatory action."
St Hillaire said that out of the 56 farmers who
have crops on the right of way on the highway, only
three have been compensated.
He said whenever Nidco or OAS was contacted
on the matter, farmers concerns were not being
"This level of injustice needs to come to an end.
You cannot be building a highway that is called the
Point Fortin highway project and the people of Point
Fortin are not benefitting from it in no way at all.
That is totally wrong and we are not going to stand
for it anymore," St Hillaire said.
Lending support to the residents, Point Fortin
mayor Clyde Paul said he will consult with parlia-
mentary representatives to have the matter raised in
Paul lamented that while Government claims that
unemployment was down to three per cent, Point
Fortin suffers from an unemployment rate of 18 per
"We were promised by Dr Charles, mass employ-
ment. I am asking the question now, where is that
employment, very few people in the Cochrane area,
where the highway route is going to pass has employ-
ment. More than that, lands owned by residents in
the area, people are not being compensated. Even
the one or two people that were compensated, they
have been compensated inadequately," Paul said.
Gonzales resident Brenan Daniel said although res-
idents were fighting for equality, Nidco was treating
residents like bandits. In advocating for jobs, he said
Government is pushing ahead to
open another section of the high-
way to Point Fortin before the end
Stacy Roopnarine, minister in the
Ministry of Works and Infrastruc-
ture, said so as she delivered the
feature address at the handing over
ceremony of the Penal Rotary Club
on Saturday night at the Club Prive,
Roopnarine said the highway to
Point Fortin would be opened com-
pletely by 2015 and would bring
relief to hundreds of thousands of
commuters who struggle daily to
get in and out of the region.
According to Roopnarine, the
highway is government's investment
in an infrastructure project in
Trinidad's south-west, a region that
has historically suffered from rural
She pointed to the University of
the West Indies Debe Campus, the
highway to Diego Martin, the Valen-
cia by-pass and the Couva Chil-
dren's Hospital as examples of gov-
ernment's ongoing efforts to
eliminate rural neglect and facilitate
equitable development across the
The Penal Rotary Club came in
for praise as the ministered recog-
nised the high level of volunteer
work being done to keep young peo-
ple away from dysfunctional envi-
ronments in which some youth are
forced to live.
The club also paid tribute to Shiv-
anna Chatoor, who topped the 2014
Secondary Entrance Assessment.
...but work will continue, says Ministry
Nidco never held any consultation with residents
and the last time anyone met with them about the
project was in 2006.
Daniel said a government official has also promised
to send soldiers to deal with protesting residents.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Nidco president
Dr Carson Charles said the company does not recruit
workers as it is Construtora OAS's responsibility.
Charles said 90 per cent of OAS workforce was cit-
izens. He added that an estimated 300 workers were
from Point Fortin and environs.
He said Nidco met with Point Fortin MP Paula
Gopee Scoon and La Brea MP Fitzgerald Jeffrey and
has agreed on an outreach programme to help relieve
the unemployment woes since La Brea is a depressed
stop highway work
Top 2014 Secondary Entrance Assessment student Shivanna Chattoor, centre, shares a light moment with, from left, incoming
president of the Penal Rotary Club Jason Gopee, minister in the ministry of works and transport Stacy Roopnarine, charter
president of the Penal Rotary Club Surujdeo Mangaroo, and outgoing president of the Penal Rotary Club Pamela Adimoolah.
PHOTO: SHASTRI BOODAN
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