Thursday, October 16, 2014

Environmentally Speaking....

When Columbus first landed on these shores there were no roads. Everything that we have done since then has disturbed the environment to some degree, but where would be developmentally without our roads and highways? The good people of Westmoorings, where they live today was mangrove and swamp just thirty years ago. There is a mountain across the road from West Mall that literally bears the scars of being cut in half to reclaim those lands.The Foreshore Freeway also called the Audrey Jeffers Highway that turned the daily commute to the west from hours upon hours to fractions of hours was once beach front property and more mangrove. The Caroni swamp, the same Caroni that thrives and is teeming with wildlife today was cleaved in two many years ago to make way for the north south connector highway that united this island for the first time and paved the way for much of the development that contributes to the quality of life we all enjoy. The Point Lisas Industrial Estate that fuels our industry, what was it built on? All of our homes, didn't nature give way to that? We have altered water courses, reclaimed land, built reservoirs, quarried for aggregate that gave us the roads that gets our children to school, all of this is development, all of this is progress.

Now no one is saying that we are to decimate the environment in the name of development, but if we were to be honest, questions should be asked why so much of our development failed to reach our brothers and sisters in the south and deep south? On whose edict were they cut off and isolated and left to fend for themselves? The Highway that is being built to Point Fortin that passes through Mon Desir, Penal and Siparia ironically will have the least disturbance to nature and the environment than any of the other civil works projects mentioned before. Someone asked and made the point, if it didn't already exist, would we be allowed to cut a road through the rain forest to get to Maracas beach? 
Would our world famous shark and bake exist?

Yes we are maturing as a people and yes we are learning to live in harmony with nature, to preserve our environment and to hand over to future generation better than what we ourselves received. This little country leads the world in such matters. It is why we established an Environmental Management Authority charged with the responsibility of making sure our development does not cost us the earth in the long run. That same Environmental Management Authority was satisfied with all of the plans for this project and gave it the green light to proceed. Why is this not being discussed?

The good people of Diego Martin, who used to spend hours in morning and evening commute, who have now been given those hours back as a gift to spend with their loved ones because of the Diego Martin Highway, the people of Valencia, Toco, Sangre Grande and environs, to whom the Valencia bypass comes like life saving surgery, the people of the far south, cut off from the rest of this country, who have spent years of their lives sitting in traffic, all were and are entitled to relief.

I hold no brief or bad blood for Dr, Wayne Kublalsingh and I respect the passion of the people of the Highway Reroute movement, but I have watched as this environmental protest morphed into a political attack against the government, I looked on as those with political ambitions joined forces to hoodwink the population even as the nation's courts threw out each and every successive claim made against the highway.

There is a place for politics, but it must not be at the expense of the people. It is hypocritical to fix your communities regardless of cost to treasury or environment and then turn around and accuse others who want what you have of being unpatriotic. How unnerving it must be to be a resident of Mon Desir, Penal or Siparia, to be watching this theatre unfold knowing that it could snatch the highway you want so badly away from you, and feeling powerless to stop it. Have those protesting gone there to see how those people feel? I doubt it. Many who overflowed out of their homes and went to give support in St. Clair left homes that destroyed the environment to be built, travelled on roads that trampled it to get there, and then chanted piously, firmly gripping proverbial stones without understanding that the admonishment is let he who is without sin cast it. Let us  demolish Westmoorings and dump it into the sea. Roll back every highway and allow nature to reclaim and replenish itself. Otherwise, to add your voice to a cause that threatens to prevent others from achieving what you yourself already enjoy is nothing more than political bullying and hypocritical in the extreme.

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