Why a temporary fix to a recurring problem?
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Julian Francis, as the Minister of Works, oversaw the building of the Argyle bypass road. As that minister, he must take full responsibility for the building and the final construction of the road.
If you are willing to take the glory for success and effulgence for the Unity Labour Party, the family dynasty and as partial dynastical plantation owner, you must also be willing to take the criticism and condemnation when something under your watch goes wrong. As a minister, you must be prepared to resign. As a member of the ruling family dynasty you, of course, can just smile at even the thought of that. Why would you give up something that you claim to own?
When being built, the Argyle bypass road required lots and lots of drainage, but insufficient was installed, which meant instead of draining into drains and gullies and then eventually on into the sea, it permeated into the ground on the wrong side of the road. The ground it was most likely to permeate was the ground that was filled and not sufficiently compacted, and that’s exactly what it did. Not just filled ground under the road, but filled ground all over the airport and its curtilage too. To make things many times worse the small seasonal waterways and natural drainage channels not recognised in the dry season were simply filled without provision for diversion when running water in the wet season.
What occurred is that when they excavated for the road through the hills they cut through a clay and loam subsoil which they used to fill the valleys and dips, including dry streams and dry riverbeds.
When Julian Bodge made the statement that the road was open again after its most recent collapse, I was quite surprised to hear him say it was a temporary fix suitable for about two years. Surely the road should have a final engineering correction and cure before the airport becomes operational. There is plenty of space to work on the area where the original collapse took place and there is time to try and rebuild the original road without the now hairpin bend.
We all know the road has collapsed twice already. The problem for the second collapse was exactly the same problem as with the first collapse and may be the same or similar for the third in about two years time. I say similar because they have put a lot of rock under the repaired road but those rocks are still sitting on and are surrounded by a huge floppy mud pudding.
Why on earth would you make a temporary road repair when it is serving what is hoped to be a permanent feature known as Argyle International Airport. It means at some time in the future when the airport is complete and (we hope) opened, that once again the road will have to be closed which will seriously affect travellers. It will put five mile on the journey from the Leeward to the airport entrance road and vice versa.
I was recently told that there are several other sections of the road that received the same treatment and may be prone to road collapse. I am not sure that is true unless some dimwit excavates close to the road like they did where the recent collapse occurred. Also unless they have seriously ignored the water and drainage problem like they did where the recent collapse took place.
One other thought to keep in mind is all that water that is continuously draining from the adjacent hills as surface water ends up at Argyle airport. But there is much, much more, draining underground from the hills and mountains that ends up under the airport and they have made no provision at all for that.
That land on which the terminal aircraft apron is built and some areas on which the runway is built were ancient swamplands, fed by spring water. The hills and the mountains surface water has always drained into Argyle and so has the underground water. It will continue to drain into the area as it has done for perhaps the last million years.
All the rubbish spoken about extra rain this year is just that: rubbish. It has always been a wet area that is why there are many ruins of water mills in the area left from sugar production days. But many of those mills no longer have streams next to them that tells us in the past it was far wetter than today. The area has always been famous for its spectacular rainbows and you only get rainbows where it rains.
No, it’s not doom and gloom; it’s being realistic; admitting what is wrong and asking for it to be put right. But in the case of water at Argyle is it too late for corrections? What is the answer? I honestly do not know, perhaps a firm of foreign engineers with experience in such matters should be consulted, and not the Cubans who took ten years to finish the three-year project. Get some British or Americans, Germans, Canadians, someone with some savvy.
The Argyle Airport and its bypass road has been a series of blunders, we cannot blame Julian for the airport but we can blame him for the road. But I suppose seeing as the airport is so deeply connected to the family dynasty perhaps Julian should get a portion of that blame as well.
The airport has put our country into what some see as eternal debt. I hope they do not sell the Arnos Vale airport because we can be almost sure it will be needed again at some time in the very near future least we are cut off by air from the outside world. Things will go wrong at Argyle because of the engineering, several underground drains that are only four feet square running for almost a mile are already half silted up and not much prospect of them ever being cleaned (or are capable of being cleaned out) out if the ULP government runs true to form.
What can we do? Very little we will be long gone and it’s a problem for our children and grandchildren and even their children; it’s their problem. A problem created by one man’s political ambitions and dreams. I, of course, refer to the family dynasty leader and creator of the Argyle folly, Ralph E Gonsalves. I also blame those in diaspora who have supported this man’s dreams with their selfish greed and ignorance with little regard for those Vincentians who in the future will be paying for Ralphs folly. The diasporans or their children will not be paying in the future as their children and grandchildren are assimilated into the country where they are born and to which many will swear allegiance. Our offspring will have to bear the debt created by this political party, this family dynasty, this man aptly called the comrade, with the assistance of those in the diaspora.
Goodbye and I wish all the readers and writers the best for 2017; in God’s name we will need it.
P.S. There are still 61 people who remain unpaid for their land taken from them to build the airport eight to 10 years ago. The Barbados road contractor C.O. Williams Ltd. is still owed in excess of $20 million for their work; they confirmed so in an email to me. Are certain hardware companies still owed $60 million? I think they are for the last several years, but will stand corrected.