Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar opened the Golconda Interchange on Tuesday afternoon, hailing it “as a symbol of further progress, not only of the highway but our commitment to a better quality of life and a better country as a whole.”
This, as she promised to continue working on developing the Southland through the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension Project.
The PM reassured that work on the controversial section of the Debe to Mon Desir section of the Highway will continue, noting that the High Court and the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Government on this matter on more than one occasion, with the presiding judges noting the tremendous cost to taxpayers and the continued traffic burden South residents face on a daily basis.
She also criticised those who have not abided by the rulings.
“Those who could not get the court to get what they want are now using extra judicial means to try to get what they want. But I say God is always great. We put our faith in the rule of law and in God and justice will be done.”
The Prime Minister said Government has abided by the recommendations of the Armstrong Report on the controversial segment of the highway.
“They took on board many of the recommendations of the Armstrong Report and when they say, some are saying that we did not consider that report, that is not true. There are many other facts that are just not true about the highway and I think the story is only now being told more frequently.”
The Prime Minister said negative social impacts have been avoided and also noted that many citizens were employed on the project.
“I am told that 91% of the employees are local. OAS, thank you very much for that. Further, with many of our technical engineering personnel employed on the project, the gain to the country, through the transfer of technology, will be significant. Thus far, I am told over 600 local firms have been supplying goods and services to the main contractor OAS.”
The National Infrastructure Development Company Limited (NIDCO), the lead agency on the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension Project, said the Highway is being built to international freeway standards, comprises 47 kilometres of four-lane dual carriageway and 2.5 kilometres of two-lane roadway and will connect the city of San Fernando and the southern towns of Debe, Penal, Siparia, Fyzabad, La Brea and Point Fortin.
The project is the largest and most complex infrastructural development that has ever been undertaken in the country and the Prime Minister expressed confidence that it will lead to economic and social benefits.
“You have seen the tremendous development in the North West Peninsula and I see no reason why the South West Peninsula should not also benefit from development. This area has been one of the neglected areas of our country in terms of development. Part of it has to do with the time it takes to get from San Fernando to Point Fortin. With this highway, Government’s thrust to bring more industries as well as tourism projects to this area will gain momentum. The quality of life as a whole is destined to be improved as a result of this project.”
Written by C News