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posted 26 Mar 2010, 15:57 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 26 Mar 2010, 16:03 ]
On Wednesday March 3, the National Food Crop Farmers Association (NFFA), in collaboration with the Cunupia Farmers Association (CFA) and the Citizens for Social Justice (CSJ), organized a well-attended meeting at the Tunapuna Hindu School, Pasea, to discuss the issues relating to the proposed rapid rail.

In a news release the NFFA said: “The areas affected will be Barataria South, Aranguez South, Bamboo Settlement, Valsayn, Spring Village, St. Augustine South, Pasea-Macoya South. their support for agriculture development and the farming community.

The NFFA, CFA, and CSJ and other concerned citizens, are adamant that the rapid rail must be derailed. That the Government is pushing ahead with its plans, at this time, is incomprehensible. But, we should not be surprised by the actions of this uncaring government. We call on the Patrick Manning PNM Government to understand that food, water; healthcare, jobs, education, and crime reduction and security are among the priorities of citizens. Not a rapid rail. Not now.”

The farmers’ organisation called on Government to help farmer communities establish small dams and reservoirs to meet immediate needs for water. It called for collaboration with Ministries and other state agencies to ensure agricultural production and prices remain at stable levels. If, further, called for the protection of water catchment areas and reinstitution of the requirement for a CEC from the EMA for all quarrying.

The NFFA commented on the recent resignation of Mr. Calder Hart and the revelation about the quantum of funds spent on an inquiry to investigate the operations of UDECOTT.
Those funds, said NFFA, "together with the unknown millions squandered on useless projects would have been better spent on enhancing the quality of life for citizens. And, we are not even going to mention possible loss of funds to the Treasury and opportunity costs by inappropriate acts on the part of agents of this PNM Government. It is against this background and all the other failures we have not mentioned, that we citizens feel that the government is waging war on us. We are being persecuted. The proposal to build a rapid rail is a frontal act of war on citizens who are suffering daily because of the mismanagement of our resources by an uncaring PNM Government."

The NFFA concluded: “It is not that we do not understand that land acquisitions must take place from time to time, but they must be done in good faith. Citizens must see the common good that will be served and their loss minimized. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister, especially, and the PNM Government cannot draw on a history of … acts of good faith on behalf of citizens and farmers. When our livelihoods are threatened, we need a political solution. The rapid rail must be derailed. The people’s priorities must rule, in the East, West, North, South and, in Central. The people’s priorities will prevail.”