News day / “We call on the government to give a commitment to the people and to the children of Trinidad and Tobago that no citizen of Trinidad and Tobago will have to pay to use the Couva Children’s Hospital,” she said.

“So while government is speaking about public/private partnership, they must give the assurance that the hospital built with the money of taxpayers, that that will be used for the benefit of the people and children free of charge,” Persad-Bissessar said.

The UNC political leader was addressing hundreds of supporters at the Preysal Recreation ground yesterday prior to leading a march to the nearby Couva Children’s Hospital which is accessible from a lay-by access road just off the Sir Solomon Hochoy highway.

In an impassioned speech, Persad-Bissessar repeatedly referred to the Dr Keith Rowley-led administration as, “this wicked government” even as she also questioned the cost of a report which seemed to question the rationale for the hospital’s construction but which also recommended that the hospital be utilised. Rowley is out of the country on a week’s vacation, attending the graduation of his daughter Sonel.

“I am reading in the newspapers that there is some report on the Hospital. They have said big lies on that hospital from day one.

I am saying provide a copy of that report to the public and tell us how much you paid for that report.” She pointed out that while government was looking for loans to build hospitals, “we have a hospital that is built, that is complete, that is fully equipped and ready for use. But this wicked Rowley government, they wi ll not open the hospital.

They will not provide proper health care for children and for adults,” she said.

Under a scorching mid-morning sun, Persad-Bissessar led a huge crowd, many of whom bore placards some of which read, “health is wealth – open the hospital now”; “children lives matter”; and “hospital before stadium”, in a march that proceeded along the Preysal Main Road and then onto the highway’s shoulder.

They made their way to the hospital under the watchful eyes of police officers, who placed galvanise barriers at the hospital entrance to prevent anyone coming on to the hospital itself.

A rope was also used to ensure the march did not stray into oncoming traffic along the highway’s south-bound lane.

However, despite the actions of the police to ensure the smooth flow of traffic, there was nevertheless a build-up of traffic as motorists slowed down to view the procession, some honking horns in support while other muttered curses at the protestors before driving off.

The march also witnessed a large turnout of Opposition MPs and Senators as well as party activists, some of whom donned medical scrubs, complete with netted shoes, gowns and headpieces.


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