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Sunday 26 May 2019
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Highway challenge still unresolved, six years’ later

CONSTRUCTION of the San Fernando to Point Fortin highway stalled and is yet to resume, however the legal challenge of environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh labours on in the High Court, some six years’ later.

For two days in October, lawyers representing Kublalsingh and members of the Highway Reroute Movement will make final submissions in the lawsuit, filed on August 3, 2012, which challenged the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir portion of the highway. Dates for oral submissions were yesterday set by Justice James Aboud who is presiding over the case.

Kublalsingh testified in January, last year, while former Chief of Defence Staff Major General Kenrick Maharaj, gave evidence one month later.

Also testifying was one of the police officers who arrested Kublalsingh.

Among their contentions, Kublalsingh and the group are seeking a declaration that the alleged actions of former National Security Minister Jack Warner and a group of soldiers in destroying their Debe protest camp and arresting Kublalsingh and some of the group’s members on June 27, 2012, were illegal. They are also contending that the Government contravened their rights to “life, security, enjoyment of property, to freedom of expression and freedom of association” by building the highway without consulting them properly. They also say they had a legitimate expectation that the Government would have abided by the findings of a study done by the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry led by former Independent Senator Dr James Armstrong.

Work on the Point Fortin Highway came to a halt in 2016 and its main contractor Brazilian firm Construtora OAS was fired from the $7 billion project.

Last month, Works Minister Rohan Sinanan said a contract was expected to be awarded and work on the highway project will resume shortly after. The project has been divided into several packages and the total cost is $91 million.

Representing the Attorney General are Russell Martineau, SC, Deborah Peake, SC, along with Kelvin Ramkissoon and Shastri Roberts. Senior Counsel Fyard Hosein, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC, Anil Maraj and Rishi Dass are representing Kublalsingh and the Re- Route Movement.

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