Businessman Leon “Bigger Bigs” Samuel looks over what he initially thought was his new mining licence. (IWN photo)

State officials signed, last Thursday, Oct. 2, what turned out to be one of the best birthday gifts that businessman Leon “Bigger Bigs” Samuel could have ever hoped for.

But it would be another 24 hours or so before the businessman would be informed that his licence to mine aggregate at Rabacca has been reinstated, almost four years after it was suspended.

And even as the the green light has once again been turned on, it will take another six months or so before Vincentians can again purchase the high-strength concrete bricks that Bigger Trucking and Block Construction Co. was famous for.

The Unity Labour Party government in Feb. 2011 suspended the mining licence, citing adverse environmental impact and violation of the terms of the agreement.

Some persons have argued that the move was a political backlash against Samuel’s alleged opposition to the government in the 2010 elections campaign.

Samuel said that the move forced the closure of his block-making plant, since his business plan did not anticipate purchasing aggregate.

Since the closure, there has been extensive vandalism of the property at Rabacca, where thieves have removed vital parts of the crushing plants and have stripped the electricity generation unit of all of its wire.

There has been extensive vandalism of Samuel's equipment at Rabacca. (IWN photo)
There has been extensive vandalism of Samuel’s equipment at Rabacca. (IWN photo)

But Samuel is happy that he has obtained a licence again.

“I felt really good. First to begin, I thanked God and then I went towards the church,” Samuel told I-Witness News of his reaction when he received the licence around noon on Friday.

“I prayed over them in my vehicle, and then I took them right to the Roman Catholic Church, because I really wanted to offer them up before the Lord. I wanted the priest to do so. When I got there, they were having midday service … and I participated in the service then I gave them the documents to offer up to the Lord on my behalf,” he said.

Samuel believes that recent comments by the Catholic clergy about social justice, which mentioned him specifically, contributed to the government’s decision to reinstate the licence.

“From there, I took them to the office of my attorney and then I made contact with the other persons who I know were with me, battling with me. I went on Facebook and personally inbox all the persons I know who were there with me in the struggle, and some by phone call,” he further told I-Witness News of his reaction after receiving the licence.

Samuel said he slept “a little easier” Friday night. “… although I know it is a far way off to get back where we were as a company and as an organisation, but at least we can see the light at the end of the tunnel at this time,” he said.

“It’s the first time in a long time I feel I can spend a weekend with my family and we can talk and try to have a conversation as a family.”

The conditions of the new licence are generally the same as the old one. However, the new licence says that Samuel must leave open the “access road” that the government claims runs through his property.
That access road was a point of contention, after Samuel erected a gate on the lands he owns at Rabacca, preventing farmers from passing through his property.

Samuel surveys his mining plant at Rabacca on Saturday, one day after he received a licence to recommence mining there. (IWN photo)
Samuel surveys his mining plant at Rabacca on Saturday, one day after he received a licence to recommence mining there. (IWN photo)

Samuel has said that the government had paid the previous owner of the land to allow government vehicles to pass through the land, after a river crossing on the public road was destroyed by extreme weather.

He said he blocked the road years after the government discontinued the payment.

“… to be honest with you, [it] is the one I have concerns about,” he said of the clause that mentions the access road.

“…instead of just saying ‘The access road must remain open’, I would have preferred to see them continue and say ‘for a period not exceeding…’ I prefer for us to have a cut off. For me, it is a little open ended,” Samuel told I-Witness News, adding that he, his lawyer, and his technical team will be meeting with Chief Engineer, Brent Bailey to discuss the clause.

The new licence also says that Samuel must install caution signs saying that the embankment is unstable, a stipulation that he said is “reasonable — no problem at all”.

There were also questions about how much land Samuel owns at Rabacca. He had purchased five acres of land, but, as the river shifted, the land size increased to 12 acres, in keeping with the law.

“This was the epidemic of the contention, with the issue of road and land size,” Samuel told I-Witness News, adding that the phrasing of the licence seems to accept that the land is, in fact, legally his.

“Because, if you see how it was spelt out here in clause number one, that means your boundaries still remain where they are; it hasn’t changed,” he said.

Samuel said he does not want to quote an exact figure but anticipated net income loss while his licence was suspended to be millions of dollars.

“I am not in a position to say, because I don’t want to put a figure out there, but what I can say [is] it is a lot, a lot of money. When I say a lot, I mean a lot — millions well,” he told I-Witness News.

3 replies on “Gov’t signs new mining licence on Bigger Bigs’ birthday”

  1. Don’t worry bigger just take it one step at a time. Someone is going to pay for what happened to your business. You cannot just stop a man and then give him back his license like that. A person’s life should not be so easily played with like a light bulb. We have laws in our country and if they were not followed like I suspected then someone is going to answer for it one day.

    We need to know the reasons why bigger was shut down in the first place. It seems someone is trying to cover their backs now that they might be going out of office. Someone is going to pay, this case has to be reviewed because I fail to believe that this is the way conduct business in SVG. Your case is one of the very reason why I am scared to do business in SVG.

    I would rather go to another country than invest my life saving in a country that threats it’s citizens like dirt. Good luck bigger. God knows best.

  2. Giving this gentleman, I call him a gentleman, because that is exactly what he is, back his license is not the end of this disgusting affair.

    Everyone knows what went on in this matter and why he was attacked and his business destroyed.

    It’s all part of the Marxist hate campaign, which includes spite, malice and evil against one who discontinued his support for the Marxist Monster Party.

    I will say no more for now, but I will write about it soon.

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