(Trinidad Express) Police from the Southern Division Task Force yesterday formed a human shield to block the podium at a public consultation on the highway to Point Fortin held by the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure at the Debe High School after it turned into a shouting match.
Members of the Highway Re-Route Movement criticised and verbally shut down the presentations made by Government officials.
The group which is against the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the highway approached the podium while booing and chanting “Liar, liar, re-route, re-route” as several Ministers attempted to speak.
Minister in the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure Stacy Roopnarine was the first one to be shut down during her presentation as resident Ramkaran Bhagwansingh heckled her.
His shouts were taken up by other members of the group who stood up and started shouting, forcing Roopnarine on several occasions to step away from the microphone during her presentation.
They eventually calmed down and listened to the second presenter but when president of the National Infrastructure and Development Company (Nidco) Dr Carson Charles was called to the podium to speak on the benefits of the highway to the community, the boos and chants erupted once more.
Local Government Minister Chandresh Sharma was brought on and he too was received with an onslaught of loud boos and heckling from the people. But he stood his ground and alluded that environmental activist and leader of the group Dr Wayne Kublalsingh was responsible for the outburst by the people.
Realising what was taking place, the programme was changed by passing two other government Ministers scheduled to speak to bring on Minister of Works Jack Warner.
Not even Warner could quell the shouts coming from the members of the Re-Route Movement that they had been betrayed and that they did not want to be relocated. This was when the police moved in and blocked the people from advancing closer to the podium.
Warner attempted to reason with the people but to no avail.The consultation remained noisy and tempers flared as residents raised concerns about the relocation and compensation exercise.
Speaking with the media following the consultation Warner said the Ministers of government were at one point against the construction of the highway “because based on the performance of (the PNM) at the time we were not sure that the people would have been given fair compensation…”