Saturday, April 01, 2006

Manning Making Excuses

Chatham residents on smelter plant construction:
Carolyn Kissoon

Trinidad Express
April 1 2006

CHATHAM residents, protesting the construction of an aluminium smelter plant in their community, have lashed out at Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who has accused them of having other motives.

Fritzroy Beache, president of the Chatham/ Cap-de-Ville Environment Protection Group, yesterday insisted that during a massive protest last weekend, they had only one concern-the construction of an aluminium smelter plant in their community.

"The Prime Minister is trying to make excuses now. All we want is for them to stop these plans to construct a smelter plant in our homes. We don't want the jungle to be destroyed. We don't have any other motive," he said.

During the sod-turning ceremony for the construction of PowerGen's new power project at Point Lisas on Wednesday, Manning said plans to construct several industrial plants along the south-western peninsula would continue despite objections from residents and environmental organisation.

"Many of the lips that are speaking on this matter are by no means speaking from knowledge," he said.

Beache called on Manning to visit Chatham and discuss with residents their concerns over the construction of the plant.

"We don't see the Prime Minister or any other Minister here unless it's during election time," he said.

He claimed that representatives of Alcoa, the international company responsible for the construction of the plant, had never asked residents how they felt about the new developments.

Beache added that residents of Chatham were used to working on agricultural fields.

"We don't want temporary work in construction. We are used to agriculture, what we needed was for the Minister of Agriculture to come to Chatham and teach us about working the fields," he said.

Manning also questioned why people living in La Brea were not against the construction of a plant in their village.

"Notice that we do not have those objections over the smelter in La Brea... it tells you a story," he said.

Beache responded that La Brea residents were also against the industrialisation of their homes, but were too afraid to take action against Government.

"La Brea residents do not want the plants as well, but they are too frightened to protest. But I am taking this protest to La Brea. Let me hear what the Prime Minister would say then," he said.

Beach added that many people living on the proposed land for construction at La Brea were not landowners. "These people are living on State land. That is why they are not protesting-they do not have a choice."


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