Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock, an opposition lawmaker, has congratulated the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the impending opening of the Argyle International Airport, scheduled for Feb. 14.
Leacock, along with his New Democratic Party, of which he is vice-president, had criticised the government’s handling of the EC$729 million project.
Among other things, opposition lawmakers have noted that the government has not laid before Parliament any audited financial statement related to the project since its construction began in 2008.
The NDP parliamentary caucus, however, continued to approve loans for the construction of the airport and during the campaign for the December 2015 general elections, committed to completing the project, if elected to office.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Leacock said,
“Mr. Speaker, I just rise to offer an unconditional congratulation to the government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the pending opening of the Argyle International Airport.”
The statement was greeted with a smattering of applause from the government benches, as Leacock added, “We, on this side, have had much to say, Mr. Speaker, but I conclude by saying that a generation unborn would ask what were we quarrelling about.”
Speaking to iWitness News during a break in the parliamentary session, in which the Estimates of Income and Expenditure for 2017 were debated, Leacock said, “Credit should be given where credit should be given…
“We have spent over a billion dollars and I have summarised it simply: the next generation –, my children and grandchildren — will ask the question what were we quarrelling about, especially when they look at the comparison and the contrast between the Argyle International Airport and what we now have, the E.T. Joshua Airport.
“You wouldn’t be able to explain to them the difference.”
He told iWitness News: “People have argued, rightfully, that the ULP could be punished and should be punished for the significant cost overrun with respect to the airport. But that is all water under the bridge. We have to make the airport function now.”
The airport will open on Feb. 14 — six years behind schedule — with scheduled flights by the airlines currently servicing the Argyle International Airports — namely LIAT and Grenadine Air Alliance, in addition to air cargo provider, Amerijet.
On Feb. 14, a number of chartered international flights from North America are also expected to land at the airport.
This week — two weeks after regional authorities gave permission for operations to begin at the airport — workers were repairing sections of the runway that they had dug up.
The state company responsible for the construction of the airport or the one responsible for its management are yet to give an explanation for the repair works, the probable reasons for which have generated quite a bit of discussion after iWitness News broke the story on Wednesday.