Ishmael sends pre-action protocol letter to MOWT over Freedom of Information request

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Ishmael sends pre-action protocol letter to MOWT over Freedom of Information request

The Ministry of Works and Transport has failed to comply with a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) made by activist Inshan Ishmael, and as such a pre-action protocol letter has been sent, threatening to apply for a leave for judicial review on the matter.

The issue is in relation to the devastating flooding that has been taking place in Bamboo #2 since 2018.

Ishmael wants the State body to be held accountable for the floods.

Richard Jagessar, Ishmael’s attorney, wrote the ministry’s permanent secretary a letter dated January 6th and in it, he said his client submitted a request for documents on December 2nd.
However, he said the ministry did not respond to the request nor provide the information asked for within the stipulated time, thereby breaching the FOIA.

“The ministry has not rendered a decision as to whether my client’s FOIA Application for documents and / or information has been approved or refused within the statutory maximum time limit of thirty (30) days and / or has failed to provide the requested documents thereby breaching the FOIA,” the letter said.

The letter gives the ministry 28 days to respond with the requested information before the application is filed. If filed, Jagessar said the following reliefs will be claimed in the application:

A declaration that intended Defendant has breached its statutory duty under Section 15 of the FOIA to take reasonable steps to enable application to be notified of the approval or refusal as soon as practicable but in any other case not later than thirty (30) days after the date on which the request was duly made;

An order of mandamus compelling the intended defendants to render a decision with respect to the claimant’s /applicant’s request seven days thereof whether its application has been approved or refused in accordance with Section 15 of the FOIA;

Alternatively, and /or additionally a declaration that the proposed claimant /applicant is entitled to access the requested information pursuant to its application under the FOIA;

Some of the information Ishmael requested were documents or reports explaining the cause of November’s flooding, written reasons why defects and encroachments on the Caroni bank weren’t addressed before the last rainy season, a detailed list of work done in preparation for the rainy season, details of the contractors hired and their scope of works, and details of the work being done to address the issue for Bamboo 1 and 2.