Argyle international airport. (IWN photo)

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

Whilst watching PM Gonsalves on TV the other day, I was surprised that he was talking about the Argyle airport runway, part of which had failed a compaction test.

He said that we have got a nice new and modern testing laboratory and we can be sure that contractors would not get away with sub-standard work.  Well I listened at the time, but only this fine Sunday morning whilst riding on the ferry to Bequia did I turn over in my mind what he had said.

Surely, either he and/or the ULP are the contractors, or is “Saint Vincent and the Grenadines” government the contractors? There are certainly no outside contractors, the Cubans are only working for wages, if what we have been led to believe is true, and it’s not another fabrication.

A contractor would have a contract but, according to other things we have been told, there are no contracts — just agreements between friends; a nod here and a wink there.

And in the case of Gonsalves, I believe a nod is as good as a wink when dealing with his socialist friends on a scientific socialist basis.

Was it not also because we had no contract with the Venezuelans that they could promise to pay the Cubans wages and then decide not to pay them?

Is this a satisfactory way to conduct a $700 million project? Must we play this Marxist solidarity game because he wants to?

It crossed my mind to say it’s laughable or almost laughable even.  But it’s not, it’s cryable, it’s our money that is being wasted and it’s the Cubans’ fault.  Remember Castro once said “the capitalists know how to earn it  and we the Marxists know how to spend it for them”?

Remember when the Honourable Arnhim Eustace asked Gonsalves in Parliament about contracts, he was told “You expect me to show you my deeds”, and refused to give the information?

Then you have all the trucks and machinery at the airport with bumper and screen stickers “I AM LABOUR”. The project named after Che Guevara, that nasty communist who murdered hundreds if not thousands of Cubans by summary execution, where he personally pulled the trigger that sent a bullet crashing through the heads of the recipients. Che Guevara is a mass murderer, not a hero.

Now to cap it all, a part of the runway was not compacted properly. It should have been laid, 12 to 18 inches then compaction, then another and compaction, and so forth. There is no way that it can now be rolled to achieve the compaction required. It must either all be dug up or a special compaction machine brought in at great expense and the loss of many, many months of time. The runway, taxiways, and parking apron must pass a test of at least a 100 per cent compaction.  Every inch of the rest of the site must have a compaction between 90 and 92 per cent.

Further, sewages and wastewater from the terminal will have to be pumped somewhere.

I had hoped they would have made special provision for the wastewater, rain water from the apron and aircraft parking areas.

The water from these areas will be highly polluted with oils, fuel residues from engine exhaust, tyre rubber pollutants, and hydraulic fluids, to name but a few. Some of these pollutants may contain heavy metals like lead and mercury, which if they get into the food chain, will cause serious damage to humans.

I inspected the site and drainage system does not provide for storage and safe disposal of these fluids and waters.

If this gets into the Yambou river, because the way the sea tides run, this will cause serious damage to reefs between the airport and Kingstown and on, even as far away as Bequia.  It will also kill sea plant life and fish, contaminating lobster and fish and rendering it unfit for human, and even animal consumption.

The fluids should be collected and held and processed in separator traps and the pollutants’ separated from the water before discharge.

There will also be a serious pollutant reaction to marine life if chemicals are used to control weeds on the site.

The wonderful hard working, devoted Vincentian fishermen may be looking at a bleak future as their fishing grounds are destroyed. The first part of the marine destruction will be the elimination of the tr-tri and bait fish and reefs.

The golf course at Canouan has caused significant damage to the island’s reef, because chemical run off from the golf course. No one is commenting about that, it’s an international disgrace.

It would be much respected if the only real local expert in these matters now, Marlon Mills, would give us some input. Please Marlon can you comment?

Lastly, the owners of land that the airport is being built on still haven’t been paid.  About 60 landowners had their land taken and have been left to rot and die penniless.  Some have waited seven years. It will take a change of government to ensure these people get paid, and even then they will not be entitled to interest on their money.

Perhaps if the million US dollars in cash that was hawked around Kingstown in an old bag was put to a better use, some of these people would have got paid.

What I expect now is a new set of results to be presented that say the compaction is OK, and for the airport to be built. It’s what’s called the Maurice Bishop method and procedure.

Peter Binose 

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

10 replies on “The folly called Argyle International Airport”

  1. Marlon mills says:

    What more can I say that hasn’t already said by Peter Binose in this article and countless others regarding development practices in St. Vincent and the Grenadines – except of course that the compacting issue is the least of the problem.

    So lets just say hypothetically that the government is able to get some kind of runway going – what next? Well here is another thing to think about.

    From here onward developmentally there will be a process our elders would ordinarily refer to as the cart leading the horse. Every effort will be made to try to get it to work or at least to give the appearance that this airport can work. In the process though, we can expect that there will be a price to pay. The country will continue to be ecologically raped and stripped of all it’s natural and historical assets, but we won’t have a problem with that because it’s ‘development’ and development is good. We will get to drive a nice car, wear nice clothes, eat fine food and we don’t have put up with the inconvenience of going in transit via Barbados or anywhere else.

    We can expect that the government out of desperation will invite more foreign investors to engage in developments that are likely to disenfranchise more Vincentians. There will be little regard for environmental matters and this will cause further decline of natural resources. The same resources that have provided for us since time immortal. But our people are not going to be too concerned about that because the white foreign investors are superior, have more money to invest and are more entitled than we are. So they will get to have their way more than ever, and more compromises will be made to facilitate them and we will gladly work for them like slaves because that is who we are.

    If by accident a new government should get into office in the next election, the pressure will be on to up the game in respect of airport development and very likely the country will continue on the same treadmill because we will insist on it. After all we all want the nice things everyone else wants – a nice car, house, clothes, nice food and all the niceties. Well guess what? We would have signed a deal with the F&£@ devil and we will get what we deserve and it won’t be the nice car, nice house, nice clothes we are hoping for. And if anybody thinks that it can’t get worse than this, think again!

    The best deal we can give ourselves right now is to stop this thing from bleeding out. Just close it off and let nature have its way and let’s get on with life. If there are parts of it that can salvaged for other purposes, then let’s do that. Let’s agree to invest what little resources we have remaining on more important things like the development of our people. Let’s restore the dignity of the Vincentians and get some order back into our society. Empower more local entrepreneurs like Bigger Bigs and others in their various fields to recharge the economy and let’s get back to where we began as a people. A people who smiled, and who loved and cared for each other before this monster arrived.

  2. Peter Binose says:

    I am told by my Cuban informant that the sea terminal at the airport for the delivery of aircraft fuels has now been abandoned for three reasons 1/ cost 2/ engineering problems 3/ fierceness of the sea in that area.

    I have been told that the airport fuel supply will now be shipped through Arnos Vale. Ships will anchor off the beach where the petroleum and natural gas ship anchors for discharge.

    I thought it would come through Camden Park, can anyone confirm which route is correct.

    A typical 747 can take on 110,000 litres of jet fuel when refuelling. A Boeing 747-400ER can hold upto 63,705 gallons

    Have you seen how the petroleum tankers have to manoeuvre to get to the depot in Arnos Vale? What will happen to the beaches in the area if there are spillages. If you have enough fuel vessels discharging it is inevitable that at some time there will an incident that will cause pollution to the surrounding area. Even minor incidents can cause untold damage in the islands premier tourist area.

    Apparently, so I am told, the whole runway along with the airport apron will discharge untreated water and fluids into a small stream which will be covered and culverted, and then directly into the sea.

    No holding tanks, no treatment, no treatment through a treatment plant, no facility even for analysis of the discharge.

    1. C. ben-David says:

      Not to worry, Peter, a 747 will never land at Argyle. Nor will anything half that size ever land there. The airport is a phantom political ruse dreamt up by our Machiavellian Moses to signal to his doltish flock of sheep that the Promised Land of milk and honey is just at hand. (Sorry for the mixed metaphors but Google “cargo cult” for more examples.)

  3. Marlon Mills says:

    What more can I say that hasn’t already said by Peter Binose in this article and countless others regarding development practices in St. Vincent and the Grenadines – Except of course that the compacting issue is the least of the problem. So lets just say hypothetically that the government is able to get some kind of runway going – what next? Well here is another thing to think about.

    From here onward developmentally there will be a process our elders would ordinarily refer to as the cart leading the horse.
    Every effort will be made to try to get it to work or at least to give the appearance that this airport can work. In the process though, we can expect that there will be a price to pay.

    The country will continue to be ecologically raped and stripped of all it’s natural and historical assets but we won’t have a problem with that because it’s ‘development’ and development is good. We will get to drive a nice car, wear nice clothes, eat fine food and we don’t have put up with the inconvenience of going in transit via Barbados or anywhere else.

    We can expect that the government out of desperation will invite more foreign investors to engage in developments that are likely to disenfranchise more Vincentians. There will be little regard for environmental matters and this will cause further decline of natural resources. The same resources that have provided for us since time immortal. But our people are not going to be too concerned about that because the white foreign investors are superior, have more money to invest and are more entitled than we are. So they will get to have their way, more than ever, and more compromises will be made to facilitate them and we will gladly work for them like slaves because that is who we are.

    If by accident a new government should get into office in the next election, the pressure will be on to up the game in respect of airport development and very likely the country will continue on the same treadmill because we will insist on it. After all we want all the nice things everyone else wants – a nice car, house, clothes, nice food and all the niceties. Well guess what? We would have signed a deal with the F&£@ devil and we will get what we deserve and it won’t be the nice car, nice house, nice clothes we are hoping for. And if anybody thinks that it can’t get worse than this, think again!

    The best deal we can give ourselves right now is to stop this thing from bleeding out. Just close it off and let nature have its way and let’s get on with life. If there are parts of it that can salvaged for other purposes, then let’s do that. Let’s agree to invest what little resources we have remaining on more important things like the development of our people. Let’s restore the dignity of the Vincentians and get some order back into our society. Empower more local entrepreneurs like Bigger Bigs and others in their various fields to recharge the economy and let’s get back to where we began as a people. A people who smiled, and who loved and cared for each other before this monster arrived.

  4. Marlon Mills says:

    While I am inclined to agree with C. Ben David, I would not put it last this administration to try everything imaginable trick in the book to give every impression that this thing can work in spite of all the flaws. This is why it is important to take nothing for granted. The environmental threats are very real, especially where a government is reckless and has no regard for the negative impacts. The track record is already established.

  5. Why are my fellow Vincentians so pessimistic? I understand some of your concerns about the airport but they are all based on your political affiliation and persuasion. You should commend the Prime Minister for his masterful work on this project. There is no other politician in SVG with the vision he has. Where there is no vision the people shall perish. We have perished for to long. This airport is very important for the economic sustainability and viability of the country. Perhaps, the approach could have been different. However, we have already committed to the project. Try to highlight the benefits of the project instead of the little gaffs.

    St.Vincent and the Grenadines is immersed in a culture of pessimism. That’s the reason why our country will never be able to advance economically like others in the region. My God, you find excuses for everything. As for my friend Peter Binose it’s good to bring corruption and inefficiencies to the forefront but I think your position is more political than ever.

    Some of you operate like ” little sissies” as we use to say in school. You complain about every thing. If you can’t bring me the solutions I don’t want to here about the problems. If you think the Prime Minister is not doing a good job, vote him out and install a pessimist Prime Minister and let poverty rein in SVG. It is important that you understand that you would never find a perfect Prime Minister and there is an opportunity cost in everything.

    Dr. Gonsalves has provided immaculate leadership on the airport development. History will judge him as the best Prime Minister SVG ever had. Think about something, have you ever heard anyone from the Grenadines complain about the airport? Ask them why. Grenadines people are far more advance in their thinking when it comes to the benefits of the airport because they understand it’s value to tourism and the economic viability of their islands. They are optimistic and business minded, yawning for the airport to come to fruition.

    Stop complaining and get off your posterior and start investing so we can provide jobs to allow our fellow citizens to live the Vincentian Dream ( house, land, vehicle, a wonderful family, a healthy lifestyle and money in the Bank). Be an optimist not a pessimist

  6. C. ben-David says:

    For those who think that criticism of the Argyle Airport is partisan-driven, let me say that the James F. Mitchell Airport in Bequia was also a huge folly. Built only to satisfy the ego of our former strongman, it is today a white elephant par excellance with only two flights a day from Barbados via SVG Air (and none from the mainland except via charter). It should have served as an example of Big Man politics gone mad. But no the (m)asses signed on blindly to Ralph’s “vision” of an international airport on the mainland, a decision which will make the folly in Bequia pale to insignificance.

  7. Wow! Peter Binose your views can be construde as being those of a mega desembler, a trator, a racist, a facist and worst of all you actually think you know what you are talking about. It is amazing how you can get away with publishing such huge fibs, in this organ, without being hauled before the “Beak” to explain and evidence the cretinous things you constantly put in print.

  8. Peter Binose actually believes “the pen is mightier than the sword”, so he’s now substituting his keyboard for the pen and is on a mission to slay anything ULP… He should be awarded for this… “Propagandist of the Year”. What a pathetic fellow.

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