Life has become miserable for residents of Pepper Village, Fyzabad who live on the periphery of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension construction site.
Each day the sound of trucks, excavators and bulldozers vibrate their home, shattering glass windows and disrupting their peace of mind.
A handful of the residents met with the head of the Highway Reroute Movement on Sunday and begged for help to file for injunctive relief in the High Court.
Speaking to Guardian Media, 71-year-old Elton Creese said he could not cope with the noise and dust.
“They started construction a month ago and it is just a lot of vibration. Whole day and whole night they shaking down the house. I have a grandchild who does classes on the laptop and he can’t hear a thing,” Creese said.
At his advanced age, Creese said it was heart-wrenching to go through this burden.
Another resident Mukesh Deonarine, whose home is about five feet from the construction site said it was high time that the State finalized negotiations.
“It is eight years now we negotiating. They want to pay us next to nothing for our properties,” he said.
He explained that most of the residents did property valuations but these were rejected by the National Infrastructure Development Company Limited.
In the meantime, while they wait for a conclusion of negotiations many people were falling ill.
“I live with my wife, our two children and my sick mother. Dust is getting everybody sick in the house, giving them respiratory illness. The whole house is being shaken from 6 am to 6 pm. It doing damage to my house. The windows are shattering and the whole house is cracking up all around,” Deonarine added.
He said it was unfair to live with this stress.
But the head of the Highway Reroute Movement Dr Wayne Kublalsingh said he will continue to seek redress in the court and file for injunctive relief in the High Court.
“The government decided to pay Trinidad Earthmovers $162 million for two kilometres segment of the highway between Mon Desir and Fyzabad but they are simply refusing to pay the residents,” Kublalsingh said.
He added, “Every day they are destroying the lagoon system, the river courses, gardens, trees, forests so the people themselves are extraordinarily distressed. No amount of appeals to Dr Rowley have borne fruit…I have tried to meet him over 45 times since he came into office, twice we met when he was the Opposition Leader. Letters to EMA, letters to NIDCO sent so next week and the following week we will file for injunctive relief,” Kublalsingh said.
He added that the government was acting outside of the law.
He said there were four matters already filed in Court and the government’s defence is it was acting in the public interest.
“The HRM has been advocating against this highway since 2004. The Armstrong report is very clear. Do not build any highway unless you do the technical studies, ten recommendations were made. I act in the public interest. It is the people who are acting in the public interest, not the government. They giving the contractors millions of dollars and the residents get none,” he added.
He also called on the government to make their intentions known as it relates to the Pepper Village, Government School which is in the direct path of the Highway.