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Businessman, Leon “Bigger Bigs” Samuel, on Friday, received a new licence to mine aggregate at Rabacca — essentially a new lease on life for his block-making plant that ceased operation after the licence was suspended in February 2011.
But it could be another six months or so before another crushed pebble rolls off the conveyor belt of his crushing plant in Rabacca, or another brick is moulded at the plant in Yambou.
“I wish I could have said to you and the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and those in the Diaspora I could have begin tomorrow, but that is not the case,” Samuel told I-Witness News on Saturday when asked when his operations will recommence.
“This is what I have to come back to after almost four years of battling to get the government to revisit the decision they took, which they finally did, and their decision to give us back our licence,” he said, pointing at the rusted crushing plant which he bought brand new some years ago.
Thieves have removed many parts of the plant, and parts from vehicles and other equipment that Samuel has at the Rabacca site. Vandals have also removed wires from the generation plant, and vandalised the office building there.
“… this is what I have to contend with after almost four years,” Samuel said, shaking his head in dejection.
“To be honest with you, I can’t even find words to explain; but, we have to start anyhow,” he further told I-Witness News.
He said he will have to meet with a mechanic and an electrical engineer to determine what is needed to get the operation up and running again.
This will include contacting suppliers in the United Kingdom, from where the custom made crushing plant was imported.
“This is one of the best units you could have found in this country to handle Rabacca material and this is what it is today,” Samuel further said of the rust-covered crushing plant.
“I myself can’t even believe what I am seeing here at this time, because it is a place I do not frequent because every time I come on site here it makes me depressed. So, when I leave here today, it is going to take me a good while to get it out of my system again. So every time I come here, it is like afresh knowing that this is equipment that used to provide jobs and one of the top quality materials for the building industry of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I can’t believe it. Look at those other equipment there. But we have to make a start,” the businessman told I-Witness News.
“We will definitely have to get replacement parts, because persons already stole off some,” he said, adding that persons have stolen many parts from the electricity generation unit, which is chained locked.
“Most of the vandalism that was done here was to get scrap metal like copper, … because those motors carry a lot of copper … It is a lot of replacement, so it is going to take a little while before I can really start producing again.”
But there is another problem. Samuel is “broke”.
“Let me be honest with you. I have no money. Period,” he told I-Witness News, adding that he used to reinvest all his money in the business.
“That why when the thing happened, it catch me, basically, as people will say in our language, broken.”
Samuel said that while he does not have cash, he has assets, and it could take some time to capitalise on those assets.
“It will now take me to sit down with my accountant, my technical team, along with my lawyer to see our best approach going forward to see what we can do to raise that fund.
“But you know that is going to take some time, because, as I said, I don’t have the raw money where I can walk into a bank tomorrow and draw it out of an account. The whole thing is a process. So it all depends on how long that process takes in order to take me to that place, if we get financing,” he told I-Witness News.
“To be honest with you, for sure it will not be this year, because the year only has about three months remaining. … We need at least six clear months, I believe, before we can begin operating again,” Samuel said.
But he also said that when Bigger Trucking and Block Construction Co. is back in full swing, persons can expect the same quality bricks that distinguished the concrete bricks it produced from others on the market.
“What persons can expect from me is what they used to [be] accustomed to. We are not going to deviate from producing the best quality, whether in aggregate or block, and to improve. Because what this has done is to show me the Vincentian public is there and those who were supporting, want to see that we continue [to] produce and continue to give of our best to nation building,” Samuel told I-Witness News.