Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan has denied that he is silent on the Point Fortin Highway and what projects the money borrowed by government from the Andean Development Bank, CAF, will be used for.
In a two-page press release, which the Minister placed on his Twitter account, Sinanan yesterday insisted that he was both flummoxed by the headline in the Business Guardian that he was “silent” and at the same time he was unclear about the meaning behind the headline.
Sinanan said, “I am greatly opposed to and unclear about the meaning behind the headline ‘Silent Rohan’. Indeed, I was not silent. We spoke. The author admits to a ‘brief conversation’ with me.”
The Works and Transport Minister was responding to the lead story in the Sunday Business Guardian, in which, at the time of the interview, he was unable to identify a timeline for the completion of the most expensive infrastructure project in the country’s history, which falls under his remit as Works and Transport Minister, nor was he able to say on how far the work had reached.
Sinanan was also unable to say what projects the CAF loan will be used for.
When he was contacted by Business Guardian’s Senior Reporter Peter Christopher, Sinanan’s response to him on the questions of how far the highway had reached and what may be a timeframe for its completion, was, “There are different packages. So each package will be at a different stage. So, in terms of to say, well it will reach from San Fernando to a certain area. There are different packages. Each package will be at a different stage of work. All packages are going on at the same time,” said Sinanan.
“Again each package will be at a different stage so I can’t tell you the project is 50 per cent 60 per cent, 70 per cent. Each package will be at a different stage but work is ongoing on all 12 packages.”
In his press release, Sinanan claimed that while he can appreciate the need for writers who work for newspapers to produce attention-grabbing content, he finds it unfortunate “when they spin the facts merely to manufacture intrigue”.
Pointing out that he had accommodated Mr Christopher when Guardian Media called him “unexpectedly”, the Works Minister argued that he was unable to provide the type of detail Christopher was seeking on the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension to Point Fortin.
“I have found that for stories of such national importance, astute journalists schedule ahead of time, giving my team and myself sufficient time to gather the facts for the truth to be told,” declared the Works Minister.
Sinanan said Christopher’s article also claimed that he as Minister of Works was unaware of what the new billion dollar CAF infrastructure loan is intended for.
“It is yet another twist on the facts, as I explained to him, that the management and disbursement of the loan are the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance,” insisted Minister Sinanan.
In response to Christopher’s questions on what projects the money would be used for, Sinanan said the matter should be directed to the Ministry of Finance.
In his press release the Minister wrote, “Despite the fact that the sectors under my purview, such as transportation infrastructure, maritime, sea and airports, will be the main beneficiaries, I cannot speak to matters related to the allocation of funds.”
He insisted that the highway projects were negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and that journalists should abide by “higher standards of reporting for the sake of integrity.”
Editor’s Note: The Business Guardian also reached to NIDCO on the highway issue but the company only got back to Guardian Media on Sunday and its responses were carried in detail in yesterday’s newspaper.