The temporary injunction which halted work on the $400 million Churchill Roosevelt Highway extension to Manzanilla has been extended to tomorrow.
It has also been widened to allow the contractor, KallCo, to continue with its construction of an access road.
KallCo and project manager, the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco), will also be allowed to continue with surveys, remove already felled trees and construct a temporary office at the site.
The extension of the injunction was granted by Justice Kevin Ramcharan, who again said his concern was to preserve the subject matter of a judicial review claim of the Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS). The group claims that the highway construction has threatened the Aripo Savannas - an EMA-designated environmentally sensitive area (ESA).
The FFOS has also challenged the decision by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) to issue a certificate of environmental clearance (CEC) to the Ministry of Works for a 5,000-metre highway from the Cumuto Main Road to 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.”
At yesterday’s hearing in the Port of Spain High Court, submissions began on FFOS’ leave application and are expected to continue tomorrow.
Ramcharan has also warned parties against ventilating the matter publicly, urging them to be careful of the public utterances they make on the merits of the case.
Earlier in the day, after four hours of arguments, the judge refused FFOS’ application to amend its case and abridge the time to do so. In support of permission being granted to them to pursue their claim against the EMA, FFOS’ attorney Anand Ramlogan, SC, argued that there were several breaches committed before the CEC was granted to the ministry on June 22 last year.
He said there was a breach of national policy by not holding public consultations prior to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. He also said the two which were held was insufficient as it did not give the public an opportunity to fully digest the documentation presented by the ministry “given the scope and magnitude of the project.”
Lead counsel for the EMA, Deborah Peake, SC, in her brief submissions said since the FFOS, as a self-described public-spirited organisation, chose not to participate in the consultations, they cannot now bring a complaint.
“The time for their contribution has passed. At no time did they participate. Instead, they chose to sit idly by until the CEC was granted to say the process is illegal.”