21 November 2012
Mr. Emmanuel George,
Minister of Works & Infrastructure,
Port of Spain
I write to you in response to the Prime Minister’s call for friends and supporters of Dr Kublalsingh to help in the resolution of the impasse relating to the concerns of the Re-route Group re the Debe to Mon Desir portion of the planned highway to Pt Fortin.
As you may be aware, I have myself undertaken a “fast” in order to increase public consciousness and improve parliamentary oversight over corruption in public enterprises, so I have a keen interest in Dr. Kublalsingh’s “hunger strike” which we all agree must end soon before the unthinkable happens.
I am aware that you and your government believe that you have fulfilled the requests of the Re-route Group for a review of the issues raised, but the fact that this movement, in your own words, still has “so much traction” should indicate to you that the review process has been less than adequate.
This is not the time to point fingers or cast blame. Dr. Kublalsingh’s life is at stake. I would like to present Dr. Kublalsingh and his supporters with a short, cogent response to their concerns as I believe that this is the only way to convince him that he should end his hunger strike. Armed with such a document, I believe that I may have a bit more influence with him and his group than you would.
From your many statements on this issue since the hunger strike began I gather that:
- You believe that the environmental issues have been mitigated in the (new?) plan for the section of the highway in dispute.
- That the alternative route proposed is irrational because it does not go through the areas of population and so would not maximize “connectivity”.
- That displacement of the families/communities is justifiable because it is for the common good.
I have no information on whether the “technical” environmental issues (for example the hydrological studies which were/are a source of contention) have been satisfactorily resolved. However, given the urgency of the situation, I am prepared to accept that the environmental issues have, at least in part, been mitigated.
You have, however, made no reference to date about the cost benefit analysis which Dr. Kublalsingh has requested a long time ago. This is critical because, in this instance, it helps to define the “common good”. I believe that I could convince Dr. Kublalsingh, those being displaced, and indeed, all of Trinidad & Tobago, to support the disputed section of the highway if we had the costs and benefits quantified.
This could be compared with the costs and benefits of the alternative route proposed by the Re-route Group and the conclusions should then be beyond dispute.
Since I am sure that this analysis has been done, I ask that you send me, in the interest of time, not the entire cost benefit analysis, but simply the total estimated costs and the total estimated benefits for the original and the alternative routes.
I can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 777-2932.