Environmentalist to end hunger strike
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Dec 5, CMC – Environmentalist Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh is expected to end his 21 day hunger strike on Wednesday night following talks with officials of the Joint Consultative Council (JCC) on the demands made by the Highway Re-route Movement (HRM) regarding the construction of a multi-billion dollar highway in the south of Trinidad.
Kublalsingh in a brief statement to reporters said that he was confident of having a successful meeting this evening at 8.00 pm (local time) with the JCC officials, who earlier this week meet with government to discuss the TT$7.2 billion (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) San Fernando to Point Fortin highway project.
There was a celebratory mood outside the Office of Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, where the 53 year-old environmentalist, had been staging his hunger strike.
As he left the area, on Wednesday, Kublalsingh threw a bottle of water into the air as supporters and members of the HRM clapped in a celebratory mood.
On Monday, Works Minister Emmanuel George, who met with the JCC and other non-government bodies seeking a resolution to the impasse over the construction of the highway, said “the National Infrastructure Development Company Limited (NIDCO) undertook to make available to the JCC all the relevant documentation in its possession on the project in respect of the Debe to Mont Desir segement of the highway.
He said that the JCC had given an undertaking to “examine all the documentation on the project provided by NIDCO and all other relevant documentation and to produce a report within 60 days from today’s date for NIDCO for its consideration and publication thereafter”.
In addition, George said there had been agreement that “work would continue on the site of the highway”.
JCC president Afra Raymond told reporters that he is satisfied with the outcome of the discussions.
But Kublalsingh and the HRM in a statement, said while they were grateful to the various civil society organisations, the authorities must indicate clearly that “no construction work should begin in the Debe to Mon Desir highway including the interchanges whilst the committee meets”.
They also want a cost benefit analysis report, a social impact assessment report and a hydrology report to form part of the terms of reference of the committee, adding if the committee does “not have the competence to undertake these reports they should be undertaken by competent bodies.
“The terms of reference should include the provision that oral and written submissions be made to the committee by the HRM as well as other members of the Mon Desir to Debe communities,” the HRM said, adding that it will end its action “once we have written confirmation that these requests are honoured in writing”.
Kublalsingh, a University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer, once he has been given the assurance by the JCC that the demands had been accepted he would end his hunger strike.