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Friday 15 December 2017
Crime and Court

Lawsuit over highway construction

A legal challenge has been mounted against Government’s proposed Churchill Roosevelt Highway Extension to Manzanilla.

Environmental lobby Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) is seeking to have the courts review a decision by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) to issue a certificate of environmental clearance (CEC) to the Ministry of Works, for construction of a 5,000 metre highway starting at the Cumuto Main Road and ending at Guaico Trace in Sangre Grande.

In its lawsuit, FFOS contends the CEC is “unreasonable, illegal, procedurally improper, irrational, null and void and of no effect.” As part of their judicial review claim, FFOS is also asking the court for an interim injunction to stop all expenditure and construction work on the project.

The Ministry of Works and Transport has intervened in the matter as an interested party. At yesterday’s hearing before Justice Kevin Ramcharan, in the Port of Spain High Court, a legal representative from the EMA said the authority was resisting the application filed by FFOS but is in the process of retaining legal counsel.

Senior State Counsel Josephina Baptiste-Mohammed, who appeared for the Ministry, submitted there was no need for an urgent hearing since it is not expected that any work on the highway project will begin for at least six weeks. She said the contract between the National Infrastructure Development Company Limited (Nidco) and the contractor selected for the project, has not yet been signed and there is a baseline survey to be completed and an environmental management plan before the EMA for approval.

“I suggest we revisit the issue in six weeks or so,” she said. In the end, the parties agreed to have the trial adjourned to November 2, to be heard in the San Fernando High Court.

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