|‘JESUS SAVE MY CHURCH' |
By CECILY ASSON Monday, April 7 2014
A PASTOR yesterday prayed to Jesus, begging that the Son of God speak to the Government and tell them to shift the proposed route of a section of the Point Fortin to San Fernando Highway, to save his church from being bulldozed.
Pastor Imtiaz Ameerali, head of the Miracle Fountain of Life Ministries in Debe Trace yesterday promised to “fight to the bitter end” to save his church from being flattened by bulldozers as work continues apace on the highway.
Ameerali’s church, which has been in existence for the past ten years is situated on about four lots of land in the middle of the proposed route for the Debe to Mon Desir section of the highway.
Over the last four weeks, 18 houses, two of which are close to the church, have been allegedly bulldozed even as an application for an interim conservatory High Court order with powers of an injunction which is currently engaging the attention of a judge.
Yesterday, at a press conference and interfaith service hosted by the Highway Reroute Movement (HRM) in Debe, Pastor Ameerali publicly begged God to spare his church and the homes of residents which have been earmarked for bulldozing to make way for the highway.
“All we are asking of you dear Father is that this highway be re-shifted.
“All we are asking of you Jesus, is to save this church...speak to the authorities and help them to get the understanding that they need to shift the highway,” Ameerali prayed.
He later said, when the bulldozers knocked down houses in the area, his congregation began to dwindle. “God has put me here and I don’t want to move. I want my church to stay here. All I want is for the highway to shift. My congregation has split up because those who have accepted compensation and moved on, are not coming back to attend church service,” the pastor said.
Saying that his church did not have money to fight the State in the courts, Ameerali said he remains strong in his faith and believes his church will not be bulldozed.
Reroute movement spokesperson Shireen Boodhai, said that the constitutionality of the government’s actions on the proposed Debe to Mon Desir Highway, is being tested in the courts.
“The court has not yet made a decision on this application, yet the government is continuing its bulldozing. If the court decides to grant the conservatory order, what will Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar say to these residents whose homes have been demolished?” she asked.
Newsday was told that so far, nine houses in Debe Trace, Oropouche River Bank North and South, three in Gopie Trace, San Francique Road, two in Gandhi Village, two in Debe Trace and one house along San Francique Road have been demolished. The reroute movement has been saying that approximately 300 homes are earmarked for demolition along the proposed route of the highway.
For more than a year, the reroute movement has been waging a battle with Government to have the proposed site for the Debe to Mon Desir section of the highway be removed on ecological grounds (destruction to wetlands etc) and social grounds (destructions of people’s properties) despite the fact that persons whose homes have or are to be demolished have accepted compensation packages from the Government which includes them being relocated and given state houses. The battle is now before the courts.
At the last court hearing, lead counsel for the Attorney General Russel Martineau, SC, urged the judge hearing the reroute movement’s application for an interim conservatory order to halt works at the Debe to Mon Desir portion of the highway, to not assist the reroute movement in stopping construction of the highway.
Martineau made the call as he continued his response to the application for the interim order being sought by the reroute movement which is being heard by Justice James Aboud at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain.
The reroute movement in a constitutional case is claiming vindicatory damages, aggravated and exemplary damages, together with legal costs.
A conservatory order is also being sought to stop construction of the highway expansion and stay all notices served on the movement under the Land Acquisition Act, pending hearing and determination of the case.
According to the group, their constitutional rights to life, security, enjoyment of property, protection of the law, freedom of expression and freedom of association have been contravened.