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Cross country road debate too political

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EDITOR: I write with some concern that the present debate on the proposed cross country road (CCR) is now unfortunately degenerating into a political battleground.

This is unfortunate, because the more we introduce partisan politics into the debate, the less credible we are likely to be perceived. It is my belief that technical and scientific issues abound on this project, and are serious enough not to become lost in the personal attacks and political rhetoric. {{more}}

My views and concerns about the proposed cross country road were expressed more than a year ago on radio programmes and in two newspaper articles entitled, “Appraising Our Projects And Appraising Our Projects II” in August and November respectively last year.

At that time I was one of only a few persons, including Dr. Adrian Fraser and Bassy Alexander, urging caution and inviting debate on the issues. The debate unfortunately never got off the ground. I suspect that at that time, unlike today, it was not yet a profitable vein for others to exploit.

My views and concerns have not changed. In fact, I now have a greater conviction and responsibility to the nation to ensure that, at the very least, our water supply is protected both now and in the future. As joint custodians of the forests, the Forestry Division, Vinlec and the CWSA are always concerned about the integrity and safety of our forests and watersheds. Those concerns will never be concealed.

The Ministries of Works and Planning have both been made aware of all the potential negative aspects of the project. In response to this and to his credit, the Minister of Works has repeatedly assured the entire nation that all of these concerns will be addressed in the up-coming technical feasibility and environmental impact studies. We can only take him at his word at this point and wait the commissioning and results of these studies.

If: (a) there is no opposition to the present upgrading of the two link roads; (b) we are not saying “no” to the project, just demanding the requisite technical studies; and (c) the Minister has promised the nation that he will deliver these technical studies, then where is the problem?

If we are really sincere about our concerns, then I wish to suggest that a more positive approach would be for us to enumerate and highlight the areas that we regard as critical and must be addressed in order to give us some measure of comfort. This, I believe, would help the Ministry of Works shape the terms of reference to consultants for the up-coming studies.

G. E. M. Saunders

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