Kublalsingh awarded $.5m for highway breaches

Dr Wayne Kublalsingh -
Dr Wayne Kublalsingh -

“SIT and talk with us,” was the entreaty of environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh to the Government after a High Court judge ordered the State to compensate him to the tune of $.5 million for breaches arising over the construction of a portion of the San Fernando to Point Fortin highway.

On Monday, eight years after Kublalsingh and his Highway Reroute Movement took legal action against the State, Justice James Aboud held that there was a legitimate expectation that the then People’s Partnership Government would have abided by the report of the former independent senator, Dr James Armstrong.

The judge is expected to deliver a written decision in which he also ordered the State to pay to Kublalsingh and the HRM a total of $500,000 in compensation.

Kublalsingh has since mounted another legal challenge over the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir portion of the highway, in which he is seeking an injunction from the Appeal Court on claims that the State is in breach of land acquisition laws. The matter is expected to come up for hearing on November 5.

That appeal is against a ruling of Justice Ricky Rahim who, in April, dismissed Kublalsingh’s judicial review claim over the restart of the work to the contentious segment of the highway.

Speaking after Aboud’s ruling on Monday Kublalsingh said it reaffirmed his faith in the Judiciary. He said he said from listening to the judge, he sensed he was angry about the way the State behaved.

While saying the fight was far from over, Kublalsingh had one simple request: “Sit and talk with us.”

Kublalsingh and the HRM, who were represented by Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, Fyard Hosein, Rishi Dass, and Anil Maraj, filed the lawsuit on August 3, 2012.

Among their contentions was that the State illegally destroyed their Debe protest camp, arresting Kublalsingh and some of the group’s members on June 27, 2012. They also contended 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.

At the trial, 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 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.

In 2018, a new contract was expected to be awarded and work on the highway project was expected to resume shortly after. The project has been divided into several packages and the total cost is $91 million.

Kublalsingh staged two hunger strikes in an attempt to engage then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to change the route of the extension of the Solomon Hochoy Highway to Point Fortin.


"Kublalsingh awarded $.5m for highway breaches"

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