The EC$700 million airport has missed several completion deadlines since 2011. (Photo: Friends of Argyle Int’ Airport/Facebook)

The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) says it remains committed to completing the EC$700 million international airport under construction at Argyle if it is elected to office in the next general elections.

General elections are constitutionally due in March 2016 but are widely expected this year.

Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace told listener to his weekly radio programme on Monday that while his party still has concerns about the implementation of the project, too much money has been invested for it not to be completed.

He was repeating a position first enunciated on the eve of the December 2010 general elections when he announced that his party is committed to completing the project.

The airport, which has missed several deadlines since 2011, including December 2014, is now expected to be complete in October 2015, head of the Tourism Authority, Glen Beache has said, even as other government officials have avoided a definite date, saying only that it will be completed “later this year”.

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Observers, however, have expressed doubt that the project will be completed this year, and Eustace said that he does not believe that it will be finished by the end of 2016.

Eustace said that his party will bring persons up to date on what is happening in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including the airport, when it holds a mass rally in Sion Hill on May 9.

He reiterated that since 2010 the NDP has said that it will do everything in its power to continue the airport.

“We know it’s not very viable because the government had done a lot of stupidness with the cost of the airport, but we can’t have that millions and millions of dollars spent and the airport never opens,” the former finance minister said.

“Of course, we don’t believe it will be opened anytime soon, certainly not in this year or even next year, but, with that kind of money spent on it, it’s something we have to look at very carefully and do what we can to complete the airport.

“I know some people don’t agree with that because they figure it was a bad project in the first place in the sense that it costs so much, it wasn’t properly studied and designed and so on, but the reality is lots of money has been spent,” said Eustace, an economist.

“It’s not a matter of stopping work and forgetting about it. We can’t forget the amount that has been spent,” Eustace said.

He expressed that some persons whose properties were acquired to build the airport are yet to be paid.

“I understand that 61 landowners … have not yet been paid for their land and we hear all kinds of glorious stories about the airport,” he said, adding that he was “fooled” some time ago when he saw what he thought was a lot of paving of the runway.

“And somebody told me it is oil that they just put down there that makes it appear as if they put asphalt on it.”

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace. (IWN file photo)
Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace. (IWN file photo)

Eustace said he was told that the fuel for the aircraft will be pumped uphill before it goes down into the airport itself.

“I understand this is a very expensive project, could cost about 30 million dollars. US dollars I am talking about. Just to get the facility to fuel the aircraft that land there. To get the fuel into the tanks, it has to be pumped up through an 8-inch pipe and then down in the airport site itself, from the sea,” Eustace said.

He said that element of the project, which is expected to take some time, has not started as yet.

“So when you tell me you are going to open anytime in this year, you are just joking and making a fool of the public of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It’s just not possible and our people should not be treated in that manner,” Eustace said.

“Every year it is to open. And every year it does not open, it says something about us. I’m tired looking at the LIAT magazine and every time you look at the LIAT magazine to see what is coming, oh look out for new airport at Argyle in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. New what? That’s a long time before it is finished,” Eustace said.

“It’s a very, very serious matter, but the New Democratic Party, at its meeting since 2010, had committed itself to finish the airport.”

“We are against the way the airport was done, the way it was designed, the waste of money that has taken place there, and constant delays n its finishing and constant delays in paying people. Some people have not been paid for years,” Eustace said.

He told listeners that there is “some suggestion that people with inside knowledge has bought lands out there, and even constructed some houses for sale based on their knowledge”.

He spoke of the scope of work that is yet to be completed, saying, “And every completion date that has been set, they have failed.

“We just can’t keep on going like that, and there is no point fooling the public. They are going to see it anyway. And I hear all sorts of stories about that airport. And, in the meantime, our economy is getting worse and worse. Tourism in trouble, agriculture in trouble, everything is in trouble; there are no positives that you can talk about right now. Well don’t talk about unemployment and the closure of businesses,” Eustace said.

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Meanwhile, Jennifer Richardson, communications officer at the International Airport Development Company (IADC), the state-owned company that is building the airport, told the state-owned National Broadcasting Corporation recently that work on the airport is “really progressing well”.

“From what I have observed, the work is really speeding along at this time. The major areas of concentration right now are on the apron and paving of the runway, also the river, which is a major engineering undertaking,” Richardson said earlier this month.

She was referring to the spanning of the Yambou River, which is being channelled under the runway.

She said the commercial apron is about 90 per cent complete and workers are focusing on the general aviation apron and work on both turning heads are complete.

She said 300 metres of  the northern end of the runway have been paved with asphalt.

“And that work is going quite well, and they will move across to the southern end. When we complete the work there, we will continue coming along in a northerly direction so that we can get to where the base is being now laid in the second kilometre.”

10 replies on “NDP still committed to finishing Argyle airport — Eustace”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    1. Obviously, it’s too late to turn back.

    2. Obviously, the NDP made a big mistake in supporting the airport starting in 2010.

    3. Obviously, this flip-flop will cost them dearly in the upcoming election as the truth about this boondoggle of an airport is slowly revealed.

    At the end of the day, many voters may simply hold their noses and support the devil they know rather than the devil they don’t by concluding “all a dem ah de same.”

    1. David, they are not all the same, if they were they would all be Marxist monsters.

      It would be better to elect a worthless dirty dog than re-elect the present regime, because they are must worse than that.

  2. I guess one can say it was poor political strategy on the part of the NDP in 2010 to support the building of the AIA. However, in some respect, you can understand the difficulty that the NDP had with such an issue. The NDP was caught between the devil and the deep yellow sea…the national pride of getting an International airport was just too strong for the NDP to ignore. And to continue opposing the building of the AIA, meant they were “unpatriotic” and “stinking dutty dawgs”.The pressure to support the AIA was too much, even if common sense tell you, that Gonsalves idea of building an International airport, was dotish beyond belief…and so the NDP, desperate for votes, abandon their common sense and went deep throat for the building of the AIA…now there is no turning back indeed.

    In 2010, I was adamant that the NDP oppose the AIA on the grounds of economic viability but more so on the reckless manner in which Gonsalves approach the process of building the biggest project in the history of our nation;this to me was the real crux of the matter.
    Gonsalves went about this project, like when a partner building a house, on land that is not his, ask some friends and families to come over and give him a hand…and in return he gave you some food and rum…there are no official plan or set budget; no cost analysis or anything, just a deep desire to own a home. And aided and abetted by the ever inebriated uncle Julian, who is a jack of all trade but master of none, the building of a home is truly on..ten years later with many set backs and missed completion dates, the house is finished; only to notice that the window frame is too small, the door is hang on the wrong side; the floor is not level; the paint is peeling off and the roof is lopsided…to which Uncle Julian say, no worries man, I can fix that…wey de rum?

    I think the tag of “international” should be removed from this airport, cause I think this is where we get into problems; I don’t think the Argyle Airport was ever meant to be an international airport in the true sense of what it really means…this was a ruse of the highest order. I think the NDP will be wise to scale back on the scope of operations for this airport for the time being and just concentrate on getting the regional flights up and running.

    @C.ben David, are you suggesting a fourth term for the ULP?….CARE TO WAGER SOMETHING ON THIS?…I loss a case of guinness last elections…looking to recoup my losses this time around…lol…

  3. David it will be the NDP which is left with all the debts. The real cost of this airport is somthing in the 1.5 billion figure. $700 million is a figure for the fools to believe.

    The only thing that the ULP have done during the last 14 years is plan and spend money on the airport. We are in debt approaching 2 billion dollars. The majority of that money has been spent on the airport. Most of all the other projects were paid for by th EU and such like.

    The money that Venezuela have loaned us is just that a loan. Unlike the EU niether Venezue;a or Cuba give anything for nothing, we have paid through the nose for everything. Between them and our PM who loves them both dearly, we have been brought to our knees and are little more than a bankrupt state, trading whilst insolvent. Even our own people remain unpaid, whilst the Cubans whistle all the way to the bank. Ten years to complete a three year project.

    Sod the onesided solidarity comrade, that is between you and them, not us and them.

  4. Eustace is seeking political mileage. It t did not work in 2010;it will not work in 2015/16.
    The airport project is still being bad-mouted by the NDP. if you want to carry on a project[of that sensitivity] they are better off with sealed lips.
    Flip flopping is a clear sign of weakness.shows your opportunistic approach.
    They first have to think about winning the election than to blindly talk about completing airport.
    As far as it seems,the NDP is in a tailspin and needs to regroup.
    Their are opposing and conflicting ideas/policies in the current NDP.The absence of Sir James is a major issue,believe it or not.
    whether Argyle finishes this year or not,most Vincentians up to ths point are convince that the completion is quite near.
    NDP Needs a different strategy.not AIA

  5. I guess this means that those in this Newspaper who are critical of the Argyle Airport are
    now likely to cease & desist from being critical of the Airport . However I am not about to hold my breath .

    I am now looking forward to 14 Articles in this Newspaper , praising the Airport . Karma really
    is a Witch , First a series of Frontline News against the Airport , and now all are now in favour
    of the Airport . This is akin to eating One’s words .

    It is very late in the game , but there is no impediment , that prevents the NDP from rescinding its 2010 Support of the Airport . Urge its members to do just that . The person who wished for
    the Tsunami to destroy the Airport aint going to be a Happy Camper , if that is done , but then that is only one person .

    I am looking forward to reading in this Newspaper a lot of Articles in praise of the Airport by
    C . Ben David et al . That would be great , writing constructively , rather than destructively at
    first that may not be easy , but in time , you will get used to it .

    Veridical

  6. And this is the same Jennifer who replied to my email of June 2011 as such;

    “Thanks for your continued interest in the development of the Argyle International Airport and I trust that you continue to visit our website.

    Regarding your question about the access road for persons still living at Mt. Pleasant, rest assured that it is still very much the plan of the IADC to build permanent access roads for those residents,persons accessing the Rawacou Recreational site and persons in Argyle Gardens and surrounding area.

    The road must be built and will be built the only question then is how soon. I cannot give you a definite date at this time as there has been some delay on the project, but it is scheduled to be done later this year. As soon as that date is known I will post it on the website and you will be so informed.

    Thanks again for your support.

    God bless.

    Regards

    Jennifer Richardson-Herbert”

    BTW my in-laws and neighbours still have no access road.

    1. Remember Dicky, Miss Sherbert-Herbert is programmed to tell the people what they want them to believe. Thats very different to telling them what is fact, because she has conveyed a policy which ensures her continueing employment.

  7. Many people are talking about the cost of the Airport , doing that is sheer nonsense , the
    NDP was in the governance of SVG for many years . Those in the NDP did nothing except
    put an Airport in Bequia .

    It should be obvious to everyone , that if previous Governments of different political stripes
    had built an International Airport , the cost would have been considerably less . But History
    tells us that none of them did anything . That being the case ; those who are now bleating about the Cost need to be silent . The cost of building any thing does not remain stagnant .

    The cost of building a House 2 decades ago , would be much less than a similar house built
    today . Then there are those who say there are no hotels ; the point however is this : Does
    anyone honestly believe that Investors will build luxury Hotels in St. Vincent , without the
    Island having an International Airport ????????????

    Those who write nonsense need to ask those who live Overseas , what are their views on the
    Argyle Airport . In Barbados at one time , people who were in transit there were abused , and made to overnight there , because of a lot of false excuses , telling Passengers that the flights to St, Vincent were full . I firmly believe that Tourists who initially wanted to go to SVG , were
    persuaded to stay in Barbados .

    In those days Barbados was the hub for American Airlines . I guess over time American Airlines was so swamped with complaints that it decided to change the hub from Barbados to
    Puerto Rico . The Sir Grantley Adams Airport itself is a Country , in the island of Barbados .
    Ms Myrie , and others can testify to this fact .

    Veridical

  8. You see all the crap from these morons. If anyone says anything that exposes what is going on at the airport, they are classified as NDP supporters.

    The airport project will be ten years old by the time it is finished under the ULP regime. Having told us originally it was a three year project. That means if they had paid a proper contractor they would have been able to sue them for millions when they failed to complete within the time frame as contracted.

    But because it’s the Cubans that’s doing the project, without any contract, they can take 10 years or 20 years to complete a three year contract.

    By the way I am a labour supporter who jumped ship when it was taken over by a bunch of Marxist’s and is now a Marxist influenced family dynasty. Those of you who think that the ULP is labour, think again, it is Marxist, cloaked in Christian democracy, smoke and mirrors the evil of Satan himself. To this day I am still Labour, but real labour, not the Monster Marxist Party that we have presently got.

    The difference between a three year project and a ten year project is three times the cost for the latter.

    Vinciman the king of flip-flop is the Comrade, who in my opinion doesn’t appear to know right from wrong. To be kind to him I think he also has what I would describe as a mammoth problem being truthful.

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