KINGSTOWN St. Vincent – Twenty years ago, Vincentian businessman Denzil Bacchus made a promise to himself: donate money to any effort to build an international airport here.
Bacchus yesterday presented to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves a cheque for EC$20,000, one-fifth of what he intends to donate to the construction of the EC$652 million Argyle International Airport.
“A project like that is a great project and I have always said to myself, over 20 years ago, that I will pledge it if someone takes the responsibility to do it,” Bacchus told I-Witness News late last night.
“I am not a supporter of Mr. Gonsalves but I give him kudos for doing that. It was strictly out of a pledge that I made to myself over 20 years ago,” Bacchus reiterated.
The real estate and jewellery entrepreneur plans to make a similar donation every three months until he gets to EC$100,000.
“I have travelled over 2.5 million miles. I know that we need to have an airport here,” he said, adding that the money “is just off the cuff”.
Bacchus is encouraging other citizens to “ follow suit”, adding, “[There is] nothing wrong with doing your duty as a patriot.”
He told I-Witness News that while he is a supporter of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) he is not a member of the party.
“I am an American citizen and I am a Republican. You get an idea? So, I am not a friend of Ralph per se,” he said of Gonsalves, who has undertaken to construct the airport, the most expensive capital project in the nation’s history.
Bacchus believes that when the airport becomes operational – slated for 2014 – it will bring “all kinds of benefits” to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We are talking about both direct and indirect [benefits]. The indirect would be bigger than direct,” Bacchus further said, adding that having an international airport “ is putting us on a map as an international destination and this will encourage people to invest”.