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If T&T ever had a cause around which the whole country could come together, it’s the Highway Re-route Movement that is desperately trying to preserve the wetlands between Debe and Mon Desir by going around, instead of through, a swamp. Even the same government that is now apparently hell-bent on ramming the highway down the population’s throat is actually against the highway: it’s true. The Highway Re-route Movement was founded by Housing Minister Roodilal Moonilal, who, in 2005, became the chairman of the Highway Re-route Movement’s precursor, the Debe to San Francique Action Committee.
So the very same people who are today literally moving mountains to try to finish the highway as rapidly as possible, to frustrate the appeal process, were all adamant that it should never have been built in the first place: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Dr Tim Gopeesingh, Chandresh Sharma and Prakash Ramadhar all personally and professionally pledged to stop the highway.
Even Jack Warner, the man who took it upon himself to lead what was almost certainly an illegal police attack on the protest camp of the HRM on June 27, 2012 (far exceeding if not actually abusing the powers he then held as Minister of Works) now seems to be against the highway, if his visit of support to Wayne Kublalsingh, the man he once sneeringly accused of secretly cuffing down doubles during his first hunger strike, is anything to go by.
Perhaps unlike the open pit mining in Valencia, the destruction of the mangrove at Invaders Bay and the poisoning of watercourses with chickens--t, this particular environmental cause, perhaps like the prevention of the smelters, is as solid as a rock—and much more so than the hopelessly unsuitable swampland the Government is hurriedly trying to fill—with hundreds of thousands of truckloads, generating hundreds of millions of dollars for whoever owns the trucks; and perhaps others. Even if you’re the kind of Trinidadian who cares not one flying firetruck about the environment, the kind who proudly kills and curries the protected national bird, the scarlet ibis, and pronounces it “red duck” before he belches Johnny Walker Blue, the methodology of the construction of the Debe-to-Mon Desir section of the highway must give you pause. (Check out the excellent presentation of “The Great Highway Heist” by masman Peter Minshall, on YouTube (at ttp://youtu.be/i_VvRs380w0.)
To fill in the swampland on which the highway is to be built, a vast amount of truckloads of fill must be brought from elsewhere; and that “elsewhere” is the Northern Range: a mountain is being destroyed, with all the consequences of that, and trucked across the island in tiny bucketsful, at great and unnecessary expense, to fill in a swamp at the other end of the journey. A mountain, a swamp and the Treasury are being pillaged for this little bit of highway and this huge piece of national self-deceit and self-swindling; and the mountain and the swamp could be saved altogether, and the burden on the national pocket greatly reduced, just by doing what the Re-route Movement has been fighting for, on our behalf, for the last ten years: choosing a more sensible route.
The neo-slave society Trinidadian need for a larger-than-life hero around whom we can gather is also heroically filled by Wayne Kublalsingh, the most Christ-like figure Trinidadian public life has ever produced. Wayne Kublalsingh stands alone today amongst the opportunists playing themselves to pay themselves in public life; and, again like Christ, is very likely to die alone for his convictions; except it will take longer than 2,000 years for people in T&T to appreciate and acknowledge his sacrifice. Everyone bemoaning the loss of the T&T we knew and loved has, today, a chance to save it. There is amongst us one true Trini around whom the nation can and should rally; someone who cares more about the spirit of the place than his own time in it; stand with him, rather than with the opportunists in Parliament, who shamelessly double back on what they presented as their convictions, because they now presumably see a gain—by which I mean, of course, “an advantage”—in so doing.
If you truly think of yourself as a Trini, drop everything you’re doing and find your way right now to the pavement outside the Prime Minister’s office and stand in solidarity with the only genuine leader the country has at the moment. He doesn’t have to lead us to election victory, to economic recovery, to the leadership of the wider West Indian nation, to anything at all: he only has to lead us out of the darkness we’re in. And the good thing about near-total darkness is that it makes it impossible not to see the light.
Wayne Kublalsingh is a beacon to everyone who cares about the place and not their pocketbooks. Our hopelessly compromised and shameless government will be brought to its senses by only one thing: the massive show of public support for Wayne Kublalsingh and the integrity for which he stands. Don’t put yourself in the position of having to tell your grandchildren you did nothing to stop his crucifixion.
BC Pires can see only Pharisees as far as he can see. E-mail your Road to Debe conversions to him at [email protected] and foot it down to St Clair fast.
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