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1229 Argyle Airport To Open 1

Argyle International Airport, seen here on Dec. 30, 2016, will be about 97 per cent complete when it begins operating on Feb. 14, 2017. (iWN photo)

Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday, says it is important that the Argyle International Airport not be used as public relations for any party or government.

His comments on Friday come as the Ralph Gonsalves administration prepares to open on Feb. 14 with two international charters, the EC$729 million airport, which is six years behind schedule.

“I’ve heard many comments about this, people have been sceptical about it happening, about the terms under which it is happening, …but we, in the New Democratic Party, we have always said that what is key about this project is that it be done properly, in a fiscally responsible way; that those who are charged with and have the technical capability to do the work [do it], that it is done in a responsible and technically sound way as well, and that when it functions, it functions for the benefit of the country, not as a PR  for any political party or a government,” Friday said Friday on his New Democratic Party’s (NDP) daily radio programme on Nice Radio, on which he makes a weekly appearance.

“It has to deliver what it promised for the country,” he said of the airport, a deeply divisive project on which many persons come down strictly on partisan lines.

“And, having spent close to a billion dollars on it, it is my hope that that happens, because St. Vincent and the Grenadines cannot afford for such a massive project that has plunged us into so much debt, to not perform in a way that generates economic growth and greater economic opportunity in this country. We simply cannot afford that.”

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Friday said he wants people to understand that the airport is not just an object to be looked at.

“It is not like a painting on a wall, when you are finished painting you hang it up and you admire it. There is a function that it has to perform,” he told listeners.

“So once the project is completed, the next thing is to know [is] how will it function and how will it contribute to economic growth in the country. And that is what is important… When it is completed or if it is completed is important but the mere fact that it is completed is not that which is critically important. What is critically important is how it functions. And that is how we will see going forward; that a lot of questions will be asked and we hope that the right answers will be provided in a fulsome and accurate manner.”

Godwin Friday 2
Leader of the opposition, dr. Godwin friday. (netmedia info solutions file photo)

Friday also took objection in his view of the Ralph Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration’s approach to the project.

He said that one of the problems with the project “has been the manner in which the government has been promoting it, almost as a ULP rather than a government project”.

He noted that in 2015, three days before the general election, the government landed a chartered LIAT flight at the airport “in what appears, to any objective observer, a campaign device to try and show people that the airport is somehow completed and you have a LIAT flight coming into it”.

He said the event was “a sea of red all around, quite clearly demonstrating that it was a political activity rather than anything having to do with the technical and capability of the airport”.

The opposition leader said that one expects that LIAT would be able to land at the airport.

“LIAT lands at Arnos Vale all the time –well, except when the wind is a little bit high.”

He said the event on Feb. 14 is a continuation of what happened in December 2015, adding that in the past, the government has tried to demonise the NDP because it asked “responsible questions about the financing of the project and some of the technical aspects of the project.

“And no matter how we raised those questions in a responsible way, we were simply … caricatured and suggesting that the New Democratic Party wants a golf course there, the New Democratic Party is against the airport and they say it can’t be done and they are too timid and all that stuff”.

Friday said it has turned out that most of the concerns that the NDP has raised “have actually come to pass, especially with relation to the financing. And, now we have significant debt in the country that has been generated by the project”.

He said that is why he is saying that for the good of the country, “we all hope and wish that this project could succeed beyond anybody’s expectations, but if it continues to be treated as a political rather than a major infrastructural project for the development of the country, and it is being treated as a political project, then, it will not perform in the way that it is intended and it will not meet the expectations of the masses of the people in this country”.

The airport will open on Feb. 14 without international certification and without any commitment by international carriers to make regular, scheduled landings there.

Watch below our video of the terminal building on Dec. 30, 2016.

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4 replies on “Opposition says Argyle Airport shouldn’t be PR for any party”

  1. Friday is talking nonsense while rewriting history:

    1. This was a ULP party project from the day it was announced on August 8, 2005 until the present.

    2. The NDP opposed building the airport until shortly before the 2010 election, making a foolish policy u-turn only because they knew that the mob (i.e., the majority of the electorate) favoured its construction.

    3. The airport has always been about politics, and only politics — in its conception, promotion, and implementation — its economic development implications being unproven, unjustified, and unrealistic. The mainland is already well served by three nearby international airports. Argyle will add nothing but debt and disappointed to this already overcrowded field. Argyle airport was not needed in 2005 when it was conceived, it was not needed in 2008 when construction began, and it is certainly not needed in 2017 as it is finally ready for operation.

    4. Argyle airport will be long treated only in political terms for two reasons. First, the ULP will run and win the next election solely on its completion as opposed to its successful operation, which it would never see. Second, the NDP — or some new successor party — will finally grasp power from the ULP because the airport’s disastrous economic failure will become more and more obvious as the months and years unfold.

    1. Great answers Dave, go man go. Show them all how amazingly well informed and superior you are.

      I am backing you almost to the hilt.

      What i admire about you is that you have almost got the commentary sections to yourself having wiped out all opposition.

      Keep it up man you will eventually be the only writer, reader and commentator here, well done what an achievement.

    2. Avatar Of Brown Boy UsaBrown Boy USA says:

      C. ben, I do not see what all the big fan fare when there are so much questions that we need to be concerned. Such as:
      1. Which airline carrier, besides LIAT, will be landing on a regular basis after February 14?
      2. How much more money we have to be spent to have this project completed, while we sit by and watch the other infrastructures of the country go down the drain?
      3. How are the taxpayers going to repay this bill in years to come?
      4. When is this project going to be considered a national (the people) project instead of a party project, which I believe is one of the biggest setback of this entire project?
      We often focus on the sensational aspects, but the reality of the matter we seem to ignore in the name of politics. Don’t forget this is still our country regardless of which political party is in power. Somehow, we keep forget this fact and the important questions must be asked and answered. We the people have to stop keep playing politics with this project. There’s too much at stack and we the people must be concerned for the future implications can be tremendous on our progress and way forward.

  2. No David! I believe there was talk about increasing the size of ET to accommodate larger planes. It was about that time the NDP supporters didn’t stop Mitchell from building the White Elephant in Bequia. Now Ralph took over and wanted to move everything on the Windward side, whether they can work there or not.
    I believe folks in the Diaspora are very selfish, including me. We want to fly directly to SVG no matter what it cost and who’s going to pay for it. The yearly trips we make at Carnival and Christmas cannot support AIA, which needs daily flights to produce and provide the funds to support this expensive venture.
    Very little is done to or for agriculture, which was and still is the heart beat of SVG economy. Agriculture was the backbone of the economy before tourism raised its Phantom head. Hence we can do without tourism, but without agriculture SVG is dead.
    I am not aware of the advantages or disadvantages of having AmeriJet flying in and out of VSG. However if SVG has a vibrant agricultural sector there can be many more AmeriJet taking our produce to other countries. I am not too sure what it can be bringing in to make the two-way route profitable. Nevertheless every journey begins with the first foot step and I hope folks like David can use their talent to come-up with answers to these difficult questions.

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