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Wednesday, January 11 2017
Taking food from the mouth of the nation is a national crime. If you want to destroy, fragment a food basket to put a mammoth piece of concrete infrastructure,1.4 million tons of aggregate, no matter how good you might think that infrastructure is, you had better think again.
No highway must go across the Oropouche Wetland food basket.
None. What happened to the proverbial Tobago food basket? The Aranguez food basket? The Caroni food basket? You want to fragment and destroy this one too? Get serious. Food, in an era of foreign exchange shortage, loss of incomes, the rising cost of food, global warming, austerity, is our ultimate defence against poverty, hunger.
Dr James Armstrong is an urban planner. He and nineteen independent experts were paid one million dollars for what? To write a review of Debe to Mon Desir. They wrote that no works should proceed on this highway until a proper study was done, to understand the hydrology of this area, the social impact, the ecological impact. They stated that the certificate which the government gave itself, one month before the 2010 general elections was flawed, bogus. The Institute of Marine Affairs also did a report on Debe to Mon Desir.
A highway across this wetland would fragment it, lead to squatting and urban sprawl, leading to loss of connectivity for human and animal life.
Dr Pramenath Narinesingh in his report said we have no grasp of the food web of this wetland, which a highway would fragment. Dr Narinesingh is a UWI engineer, a hydrologist. This is in line with the warnings of the Head of the Water Resource Agency at WASA, the Met Office, and the EMA’s own technical team. The international bankers, the Inter-American Development Bank reported on this project, saying it was over-designed and over-costed.
They refused to fund it.
The food basket of the 105,000 acres wetland has existed since the time of the Amerindians. This is where Banwari man was found. It was a rich source of agricultural production for the French, Spanish, British, Africans, and today’s peoples.
Most of the food in the Debe, Siparia, Penal markets, and the hundreds of stalls in the area come from this hydrodynamic area. The destruction, in this regard, of over 150 homes, over13 businesses, some multi billion, over 119 farms, and buildings of worship, is a national crime.
This Wetland economy is a flagship commercial and food producing economy. We have to build connector links on it, not a full-fledged, five-interchange, barrier, embankment.
We are saying complete the San Fernando to Pt Fortin highway, which has collapsed and is in a mess. And connect the Debe interchange through Debe, Penal, San Francique to Siparia North. At the level of the existing roads. That is, ten minutes from any of the junctions to it, in these towns, to the Solomon Hochoy Highway.
This will save us billions.
Wayne Kublalsngh The Highway Re-route Movement