Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh: "I Feel An Enormous Gratitude..."

Kamla: Let the courts decide. Kublalsingh ends 21-day hunger strike, accepts agreement for highway review. By Renuka Singh | Trinidad Express | Dec 6, 2012 at 2:12 AM ECT.

After 21 days without food and water, environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh ended his hunger strike yesterday.

Kublalsingh, who was protesting the Debe to Mon Desir section of the Point Fortin Highway, said he agreed to the terms of reference hammered out after a two-day mediation meeting between the Joint Consultative Council (JCC) and the Government.

Just before 6 p.m., the Kublalsingh family announced the activist had accepted the changes to the initial proposal and had ended the hunger strike.

In a media release, Kublalsingh said the Highway Re-Route Movement read the details of the proposal and found that it contained the relevant particulars they had requested, including the undertaking of a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed Debe to Mon Desir section of the highway, a social impact assessment and a hydrological, terrestrial and marine ecological report of the affected area.

“If I am to put into words how I feel now, it would be that I feel an enormous gratitude to the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Kublalsingh said in brief telephone interview.
The newly detailed terms of reference that the parties agreed to are not too different from Kublalsingh’s initial proposal and request that was sent to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar weeks ago.

The one bone of contention remained over whether work would continue on the now contentious segment of the highway during the two months the independent committee would need to undertake its own review.

“No work shall be done on the proposed Debe to Mon Desir highway since this has not been officially handed over to the contractors,” said Kublalsingh.

In an addendum to his statement, he said the National Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (Nidco) told the review committee that “preliminary works will be done on the Fyzabad and Siparia exchanges, but that no compulsory acquisitions will take place and no homes removed during the period of the review”.

“We have spoken to Dr Carson Charles (head of Nidco), asking him to respect the sensitivities of people in the area, and we are satisfied that no home acquisitions would take place in period.
They will also confine their works to earth removal and grubbing,” Kublalsingh said.

The independent committee will also accept submissions from the Highway Re-Route Movement and affected residents and take those into consideration as well. This was part of the Kublalsingh’s original proposal but was not included in the initial draft proposal between the Government and JCC after their meeting on Monday.

By 7 p.m. yesterday, the JCC, the body at the centre of the mediation talks between Kublaslsingh and the Government, issued a statement outlining the frame of reference to which Kublalsingh agreed.

Afra Raymond, head of the JCC, said in the release that they regarded the finalisation of this issue as a “solid framework for the transparent ventilation of the matters in dispute”.

“After consultation with the Government and the Highway Re-Route Movement, the JCC is pleased to confirm that it has appointed an independent working group to examine the several matters of concern on the disputed Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Solomon Hochoy Highway to Point Fortin,” he said.

The terms of reference include the appointment of Dr James Armstrong as head of the independent committee that will undertake, inter alia, the three studies as suggested by Kublalsingh, and include persons from various disciplines.

“This is a real advance in the development of our country, so we would like all parties to work in good faith within this process. The Independent Working Group will be inviting oral and written submissions within this exercise. The civil society groups are inviting Dr Kublalsingh to stop his protest action now, so that we can have his submissions and active participation in this important matter,” said Raymond." SOURCE

A Note From The Gull

The PM has assured us that she is in command so I want to thank the PM for this resolution. If she is in command and nothing happens without her approval, it is clear that it was because of her that the JCC's petition was received and that Monday's meeting was allowed to take place. So, as far as I am concerned, this agreement is thanks also to her allowing negotiations to ensue. I thank her and the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure.

A problem remains and if our PM still dreams of leaving a legacy that will be praised and remembered with gratitude, it will not be as a result of constructing highways but of laying the foundations for another sort of infrastructure, one based on transparency and accountability that will invite, accept, process, include and respond to citizen participation in the running of our affairs. No one should ever again have to resort to a hunger strike to get the attention of his countrymen and his government.

I want to also thank the following:

The Joint Consultative Council for recognising the urgency of this situation and for intervening and offering constructive suggestions for ways out of the impasse. This includes the work of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN), Working Women for Social Progress and the T&T Transparency Institute. Thank you especially, Afra Raymond, for the seriousness and generousity with which you approached the impasse. Your interventions in this matter and elsewhere will not be forgotten. Thanks in advance to Dr. James Armstrong and all those who will be working with the Independent Working Group.

Opposition Leader, Keith Rowley, for having offered your own suggestion and for your humane demeanour during this crisis.

Dr. Winston Dookeran for your appeal to the PM for compassion in this issue.

The independent senators - Elton Prescott, SC, Dr Rolph Balgobin, Corinne Baptiste McKnight and Dr Lennox Bernard who urged the Government to take the "necessary first step" to bring to an end the current impasse. 

All the writers,  even those who do not agree with Dr. Kublalsingh's protest action, who looked past politics to stand on the side of humanity.

All the persons who have shown and continue to show support for Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh and especially those who actually visited him. I am not in my homeland and with every visitor that I read about I got some vicarious comfort from that visit. I imagined that Dr. Kublalsingh was comforted even more.

The medical personnel who were on standby and attended to Dr. Kublalsingh during this ordeal. It could not have been an easy task for persons trained to preserve life to have to watch the slow deterioration of a fellow human being.

Ishmael Samad and Karen Kublalsingh for breaking down and not being as strong as those who respected Dr. Kublalsingh's wishes in this matter. Your weakness is your humanity and I would not hold it against you for fighting for my life if I were ever in such distress.

The family of Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh. You are made of the same stuff as your son. Most parents do not want to experience the anguish of the death of their child. So although I can imagine some of the pain that you experienced over this period, I don't know it and I hope that I will never have to know it. Your son has survived and you have survived this as a family. We will ALL survive this as a nation.

I have already thanked Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh (the Highway Re-route Movement (HRM). I am still reflecting upon his struggle and I do not have the words at this time to describe what he has accomplished. Perhaps words are not the reward which he will appreciate as much as actually seeing his efforts changing in small and in big ways how we go on to take care of each other and this country.

Today I want to repeat the prayer that I said for our PM on January 29, 2011.

Bless and protect our sister.
Let those who can assist, draw closer to her
Let those who cannot, depart.
Give her the discernment and trust to recognise and admit true patriots.
Remove from her space the negative influences both near and far,
emanating from the hurts of the past and the present,
from those who are against her
and from some of those who claim to be for her
and everything which distracts us all from achieving the higher destiny
which many still hope will be hers and this nation's.

Malele, toma e malonge, zamya zamya kwenda. 
Things have quietened down, be well countrymen, o quietly, quietly go.

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!