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In his address on Jan. 19, 2017 at the ground breaking ceremony for Black Sands Resort and Villas at Peter’s Hope, the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), the Honourable Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves, revealed something that Vincentian cyberspace denizens like myself have long known: certain individuals that he termed “internet crazies” have contacted international airlines and airport certification bodies warning them that Argyle International Airport (AIA) is unsafe for the landing of aircraft.
As one of SVG’s harshest critics of the need for Argyle International Airport (AIA), I wish to completely and unequivocally disassociate myself from a tiny Vincentian cabal of “Ralph-haters,” each deserving the prime minister’s “internet crazies” label, who for years have posted dozens of articles questioning the safety of AIA.
In the case of their lead poster with the pseudonym “Peter Binose” (among countless others, most recently, “Sandra Bynoe”), many of these Internet submissions were carbon copied to various named overseas airlines and airport approval bodies arguing that AIA would be a dangerous place for landing because: (1) the local wind studies were inadequate, perhaps even fabricated; (2) the runway and allied structures were not built to acceptable international standards; (3) the drainage system for the Yambou River running under the runway will eventually rupture causing the runway to collapse; (4) the whole airport would be chronically flooded by heavy rains; and (5) the remote Soufriere volcano will soon bury it in a sea of lava (at least if international terrorists don’t blow it up first).
My own position on the physical features of AIA is a simple one. Since I have no engineering expertise, I cannot comment on such complex technical issues.
Even so, I contend that the airport must have been built to minimally acceptable global standards, not only because it has been subjected to independent oversight during its various construction phases, but because if it failed to be approved by the regional and international airport authorities, this would surely end the long reign of the Gonsalves regime, a government that has vigorously paraded AIA as its legacy project since 2005, winning the last three elections only because it promised that the airport would be an economic “game changer” for our country.
The recent decision by the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) to allow flights to and from AIA beginning on Feb. 14, 2017 supports this contention while suggesting that the hysterical rantings of the internet crazies are groundless. The pending certification of the airport by the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO), which the Prime Minister claims has been overseeing the construction of the airport from its conception, should bury these mad assertions once and for all.
Or maybe not. Most of these Internet crazies are simply living in a Donald Trump-like parallel universe of “alternative facts” that no amount of credible and provable evidence could every overturn.
In the case of Peter Binose, his efforts to discredit the ULP, a party to which he is said to have been closely aligned with in the past, seem rooted not in a broad patriotic attempt to hold the government’s feet to the fire when he disagrees with its policies or actions but rather in narrow, hate-filled, hysterical efforts to seek revenge for the Prime Minister’s refusal to offer him a position as our ambassador at the Belgium embassy in Brussels. As they say, hell hath no fury like a “woman” (“Sandra Bynoe”) scorned.
I have repeatedly challenged Peter Binose and other Ralph-haters, almost none of whom have any professional engineering credentials, to substantiate their outlandish claims about the physical construction of AIA with at least some independent and verifiable evidence. In return, all I have received is equivocation, obfuscation, prevarication, personal vilification, and laughable charges of envy, grudge, spite, and malice.
While political zealots can be dangerous and though the most extreme of them may be sociopathic, the public interest also requires that their wild rants be constantly challenged by demanding that they “put up or shut up.” Unfortunately, none of them has shown the ability to do either.
Having said all this, let me be clear that I do not share the view of the editor of Searchlight newspaper that we ought to, “… come together in unity to celebrate the remarkable achievement that is the Argyle International Airport” (Jan. 23, 2017, p. 6) when it officially but deceptively opens on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, because I am convinced more than ever that this “game changer” of an airport is bound to sink us in a sea of lost opportunities, growing deficits, everlasting subsidies, and unpayable debts.
This is the 44th in a series of essays on the folly of building Argyle International Airport.
My other AIA essays are listed below:
- Get ready for a November election!
- Lessons for Argyle Airport from Canada’s Montreal–Mirabel Int’l
- Lessons for Argyle Int’l Airport from the cruise industry
- Lessons from Target Canada for Argyle Int’l Airport
- Lessons from Trinidad & Tobago for Argyle Int’l Airport
- The Dark Side of Tourism: Lessons for Argyle Airport
- Why Argyle Won’t Fly: Lessons from Dominica
- Ken Boyea and the Phantom City at Arnos Vale
- Airport Envy Vincy-Style
- Fully realising our country’s tourism potential
- Airport without a cause
- The unnatural place for an international airport
- The Potemkin Folly at Argyle
- False patriotism and deceitful promises at Argyle
- Airport politics and betrayal Vincy-Style
- Phony airport completion election promises, Vincy-style
- Is Argyle Airport really a ‘huge game-changer for us?’
- Has the cat got your tongue, Prime Minister?
- More proof that Argyle won’t fly
- Our very own Vincentian cargo cult at Argyle
- The missing Argyle Airport feasibility studies
- The world’s four most amazing abandoned airports
- Farming, fishing, and foolish talk about Argyle International Airport
- Argyle Airport amateur hour
- Vincent’s place in the world of travel
- Investing in St. Vincent’s Tourism Industry
- The Argyle Airport prophecy: what the numbers say
- Why Qatar? Why St. Vincent and the Grenadines?
- Did the IMF drink the Comrade’s Kool-Aid?
- Foolish words about Argyle International Airport
- ‘If I come, you will build it’: Lessons from the Maldives for Argyle Airport
- Urban lessons for Argyle International Airport
- Who really lands at Arnos Vale?
- No ticky, No washy — Argyle-Style
- We have met the Vincentian tourism enemy and he is us
- Hotel Saint Vincent
- Why St. Vincent Island has so few tourists
- Why Bequia is a gem of the Antilles
- Why seeing is believing in the Caribbean tourism industry
- St. Vincent’s cruise ship numbers are much lower than we think
- Lessons from Barbados for Argyle Airport
- Cuba’s tourism rollercoaster: Lessons for Argyle Airport
- What the world teaches Black Sands Resort and Villas
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.