Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan was cross-examined by Highway Reroute Movement (HRM) leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh for about 50 minutes yesterday in the San Fernando Supreme Court during the hearing of the judicial review claim he brought against the minister.
Kublalsingh claimed the minister reneged on an undertaking on March 13, 2017, not to make any decisions about work on the contentious Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension without consulting HRM.
Sinanan claims he made it clear to Kublalsingh that no “new work” will be undertaken without consultation with the HRM.
Under cross-examination by Kublalsingh, the minister said at that March meeting he made it clear that the ministry will be continuing with uncompleted contractual works by OAS Construtora, including the Oropouche Bridge, Mon Desir Exchange and a connection from Mon Desir to Fyzabad Road. He said the work was necessary to protect the existing infrastructure and is part of the Government’s obligation in an ongoing arbitration.
“What we were concentrating on was the work that OAS Constructora was contracted to do. Their contract was terminated and there was a recovery of $962 million. In order for the State to recover that money, we had to prove that we completed the job they were contracted to do and that was where the government focus was,” Sinanan said.
He said they were also protecting the existing infrastructure on those sites. Kublalsingh insisted, however, that the minister did not make a distinction between old and new works at the March meeting.
Under cross-examination by Sinanan’s attorney, Raphael Ajodhia, Kublalsingh agreed that works on that segment were a continuation of what was left undone by OAS but he said the minister never mentioned anything about the arbitration order.
During his cross-examination, Kublalsingh asked Sinanan why in a press release issued by the ministry two days after the meeting no mention was made about “new works” and it only stated that “no decisions will be made on works in that area without further consultations with the HRM.”
The minister responded: “I agree that should have been made very clear.”
Sinanan said Cabinet approval was specific to complete the work OAS was contracted to do because if they don’t T&T “might be liable to a loss of $1.2 billion.”
Kublalsingh also cross-examined the minister’s witness, Sharon Imbert, while HRM member Leelawatee Boodhai was cross-examined by Sinanan’s attorney.
The parties are now expected to file their legal submissions.
Sinanan was represented by Ajodhia, Kelisha Bellow, Ronnell Hinds, Kendra Mack-Gordon and Nisa Simmons led by Reginald Armour SC. Armour was not in court.
The judge is expected to give his ruling on April 24.