The star cast in concrete just outside the control tower of Argyle International Airport was just as pronounced on Thursday, two days after action was taken to obscure it, according to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.
On Monday, the day that the airport was inaugurated, Vincentians awoke to the news that a large star — the symbol of the ruling Unity Labour Party — had been cast in concrete near the EC$700 million airport, for which citizens have to repay EC$400 million in debt.
There were expressions of outrage at the development, which came even as the government and opposition had agreed that it was time to put aside the partisan politics that has dogged the project during the 12 years since it was announced and had called on the nation to work together to ensure its success.
When iWitness News visited the area Monday afternoon, workers were putting the finishing touches on freshly poured concrete, on which they were using brooms to ensure that the areas around the star had a different contrasting finish from the star.
But Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is also political leader of the ULP, condemned the development on Wednesday, saying on Boom FM,
“You can’t agree with that. Properly, I mean, it was wrong; no question about it.”
Gonsalves said that when he heard about the development, he immediately contacted Rudy Matthias, chair of the International Airport Development Company (IADC), the state-owned firm that was responsible for building the airport.
“He said that yes, in the excess of zeal, this matter was done by some people and he’s correcting it and it was partially correct the very same day. You see one or two pointed areas but you didn’t see it anymore as a star. And I have been assured that all of it will be covered. There is no necessity for that,” Gonsalves said.
The prime minister, however, did not explain if the group of 10 or so men who were working on the star on Monday were instructed to do so, and how they came by the material used to cast it.
Gonsalves, however, said he did not know whose idea it was to cast the star near the airport — the largest capital project in the nation’s history.
“I’m reporting from Dr. Matthias,” he told listeners.
“Look, I don’t condone, but I understand human impulses. People working on something, they just – it’s like they get carried away. But, if a sufficiency of reflection had been put in place, that would have provided a restraint. So — but that’s behind us. It was an episodic occurrence and that is behind us.”
Gonsalves said that since the matter became public, actions had been taken to remove the star.
“Unless you knew what was there before, you wouldn’t know that [from] what remains that it was a star in the concrete.
“… Immediately as I heard about it, I called and I called, naturally, the person who is the chief executive officer. He said and he had heard and immediately he had set about dealing with corrective [measures] and that was the day before,” Gonsalves said.
However, when iWitness News visited the area on Thursday, the star was just as pronounced as it was on Monday and there was no evidence of anything having been done to obscure it.
“I think one of the problems is this: There wouldn’t have been enough time. They did a part to cover it. Because people had to drive on it, you couldn’t cover the whole thing at the same time. I suspect now they would — he has assured me that the other points of it would be covered,” Gonsalves said.
The star is located on a curb that is not used for parking vehicles.