HIGHWAY Reroute Movement (HRM) leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh will get his day in court to cross-examine Works Minister Rohan Sinanan about rerouting the contentious Debe to Mon Desir leg of the Point Fortin highway extension next month.
The HRM secured a victory in the San Fernando High Court on Friday when Justice Ricky Rahim granted Kublalsingh leave for a judicial review of a matter brought against Sinanan for breaching a promise he made to the HRM with respect to the highway extension.
Expressing surprise that leave was not granted for a judicial review to the HRM, which filed 11 months ago for an interim injunction to stop work on this leg of the highway until the substantive matter was heard, Rahim said it made no sense to grant an injunction at this point.
He set aside three days in February – 17, 18, 19 - for the substantive matter to be heard and for Kublalsingh, who is representing the organisation, to cross-examine Sinanan and Sharon Imbert.
HRM will be cross-examined by state attorney Kelisha Bello, who is representing Sinanan.
Rahim also imposed restrictions for Kublalsingh’s cross-examination of Sinanan not to exceed half an hour, and 20 minutes for Imbert.
Deadline dates were also set for filing of affidavits and submission by the two parties.
Attorney Bello expressed some reservations about confirming the hearing dates without instructions from Sinanan, given his busy schedule.
Acknowledging that Sinanan was indeed a busy man, Justice Rahim said he was not averse to issuing a summons.
“If I have to send a summons to subpoena him to appear, I will,” the judge warned.
Kublalsingh is contending that on March 13, 2017, Sinanan “gave us a very clear and explicit undertaking, both verbally and in a press release which was published with photos of Wayne Kublalsingh that no decision would be made on works between Debe and Mon Desir unless we were first consulted.”
Speaking to the media outside the court, Kublalsingh said Sinanan went ahead and signed contracts for work which intensified in December that year without consulting HRM.
The HRM subsequently sought interim relief through the courts to stop all pending work until the matter was heard.
Kublalsingh said he was grateful Rahim had expedited the matter.
He said he is looking forward to being cross-examined and to cross-examine Sinanan, "to get a chance to defend himself.”
Kublalsingh said after the judicial review matter he is hoping Sinanan will sit with them as promised, “with our economic and technical and scientific experts to determine the future of the Debe to Mon Desir highway, which is, in our view, very fragmented, very destructive to the people and the economy of TT.”
He has blamed the devastating flooding in the Penal/Debe area on the highway construction.
“We are hoping for a meeting to discuss the future for a reroute. Our position is to reroute the highway to help mitigate all of the flooding, all of the social and ecological course.
"We are hoping for a meeting to discuss the future for a reroute. Our position is to reroute the highway to help to mitigate all flooding, all of the social and ecological issues so common sense can once again prevail.”
Kublalsingh said it made little sense to construct five interchanges at a cost of $1 billion and a 12-foot embankment in that country area when there was so much astounding traffic elsewhere.
“We need to scale down that project. We need to reroute it.”