Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan has dismissed claims by environmental activist Gary Aboud that state lands were being sold to China as part of ongoing infrastructural work, and accused him of trying to hold back the country's development.
At a media conference at his ministry in Port of Spain on Tuesday, Sinanan referred to videos posted by Aboud in which he claimed the governments of TT and China were involved in a partnership that would involve the sale of state lands without proper oversight.
Aboud also claimed there was some malfeasance surrounding the transaction and called for clarity from the authorities over the specifics.
In response, Sinanan said work on the Diego Martin overpass was not a government-to-government partnership, but a partnership between China Railway Construction Company (CRCC) and Junior Sammy Construction Company (Jusamco).
"Number one, the government has nothing to do with the sale of port lands. And two, the aspect of the sale of state lands remains under the purview of the procurement regulator. This is total misinformation and lies being put out by Mr Aboud.
"He indicated the government and the Chinese are in a government-to-government arrangement. This project was a public tender where anybody could have entered for this project. This is not a government-to-government project. The government has given no land to the Chinese on this project."
Sinanan said Aboud's claim that the land for the CRCC's site office near the worksite for the Diego Martin overpass had been sold to the Chinese government was unfounded, and the office was temporary and would be taken down once the project was completed.
He also accused Aboud of deliberately peddling misinformation and trying to hold back TT's infrastructural development, noting his objection to the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway's extension from Cumuto to Sangre Grande.
He also referred to the proposed Sandals hotel and resort in Tobago which was withdrawn in 2019, and questioned whether critics took infrastructural development seriously.
"The advancement for our community will not take place if we continue to accept these lies. In simple terms, look at what happened to Sandals in Tobago.
"Those who want to keep us where we are and pull us back with lies they make, we need to call them out."