Protesters hope to meet PM
By Cecily Asson Sunday, July 1 2012
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Despite a stern warning from National Security Minister Jack Warner that any camp erected illegally by members of the Highway Re-Route Movement will be torn down, the protesters went ahead yesterday and once again set up camp on the M2 Ring Road, Debe, close to where the original camp once stood.
It was only on Wednesday, under the watchful eyes of Warner and Minister in the Ministry, Collin Partap, and Chief of Defence Staff, Brigadier Kenrick Maharaj, that heavily armed soldiers destroyed the original camp and prayer room which protesters had erected two months ago. However, the group’s leader, environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh, promised to rebuild and yesterday, together with protesters, erected the camp, which will be used as a prayer room.
From as early as 8 am yesterday, protesters began dropping off bamboo in the area and by 9 am construction began. By afternoon, five heavily armed soldiers positioned themselves close by as the protesters put their finishing touches to the camp.
Kublalsingh explained: “The last camp was demolished two days ago and we were in the middle of a 21-day fast. We had reached the seventh day and we went to the Office of the Prime Minister and continued eighth and ninth day. Today is the tenth day and we continue with the fast and prayer between 6 pm and 9 pm this evening.” According to Kublalsingh, the public still needs to be educated on the controversial $7.2 billion highway project from Golconda to Point Fortin.
“There are two highways being built and we are against just part of the highway,” he said. He welcomed the presence of the army camp which has been set up in the area and said he remained confident that the camp set up on the new site will not be broken down. He said the women of his group still want an audience with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and he has been having conversations with the “women close to her” and has been given the assurance that such meeting is still possible.
“I have been talking to some of the women close to the Prime Minister and asking for a meeting and they have given me assurance that a meeting is possible. So let us see what they can do diplomatically,” he said.
Kublalsingh said if a meeting with Persad-Bissessar fails to come off in the near future, then they will be forced to set up camp “in front her residence.”
About claims that the spot they now occupy is the property of National Agricultural Marketing and Development Company (NAMDEVCO), Kublalsingh told reporters that the agency will have to prove the land belongs to them before they move. He said as a citizen he has the right to defend the land and would stop any attempt by the Government using state lands “for bad purposes.”
During a visit to San Fernando yesterday, Warner, who was in the southland to launch a new crime initiative involving former National Basketball Association player Shaquille O’Neal, said he was too busy to comment seriously on the matter. However, he did say if the protesters were to set up camp in the path of highway construction, they would again be removed. The new camp site is not in the path of the highway construction.
Yesterday, the protesters were joined by Congress of the People member Nalini Dial and former government minister Lincoln Myers.