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Rocks in Richmond

A section of the rockface in Richmond, where the quarry is to be built.

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St. Vincent is much like a pile of rocks with fertile soil on it, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said on radio as he defended his government’s decision to lease 58.8 acres of land to a St. Lucian firm for 30 years to operate a stone quarry.

“Look, in common language, St. Vincent has so much stone, we’re like a big stone heap with good soil covering it over the years,” Gonsalves said Friday on his party’s radio station.

“And there are places which are very suitable for quarries, economical and you can get the better quality stones for the purposes of the quarrying… I’m not an expert in those areas, clearly, but I’m told that’s a very good site. And you’re going to create a lot of employment and vital for the construction industry…

“So, this is all part of the development of the country.”

The prime minister was speaking one day after residents of North Leeward, including farmers who will be displaced, objected to the quarry and the manner in which the work started without any public information consultation.

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He said that the farmers, who were cultivating the lands — which the government owns — under a leasehold agreement will be relocated.

Gonsalves said that when his government was working on the geothermal energy project, there were farmers that had to be relocated.

They were compensated, he said, adding that in the case of North Leeward, the government might have other lands in the area to which the farmers can be relocated.

“I’m sure that that issue would have come up [at Thursday’s meeting]. I raised it with Sabby (Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, Saboto Caesar) and Carlos [James, MP for North Leeward and Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Sustainable Development and Culture] and I raised it to the Chief Surveyor, too, when I indicated to him when he was going down so I don’t know if that has been accepted or whatever — but you notice the spirit in which I’m talking.”

The prime minister said that he could not promise that farmers would get replacement plots of the same sizes as they currently occupy.

“I can’t say that a man who have five acres may get back five acres. You may get back three, depending on the land which is there available. 

“And you may have five acres and you get three, but the three which you have might be more valuable that the five that you had. So all of those things, but those are particular details. But I want to give them the assurance that they’d be properly compensated for their crops,” Gonsalves said. 

“I believe that there are some lands which are already in state hands which had been allocated hitherto with leasehold and nobody had paid anything at all and in many cases people abandoned the land.

“So, those are matters which the chief surveyor would have to advise that. But, you see where we are in terms of always dealing with the consultations…

“And I want the persons who are involved, the 12 or so farmers, to take my word on that.”

He said that the quarry is a “large project”.

“One of the advantages of the project in that area is that it wouldn’t affect, as far as I’ve been advised, people with the nuisance with the dust and all the rest of it. And it’s located where they can build a jetty — small jetty — so that they can barge stuff.”

The prime minister reiterated that the country needs the material that the quarry would produce.

“… this is private-sector-driven, which is regulated through the state,” he said, adding that there used to be stone crushers in St. Vincent.

“Of course, it did some bad things too because people took stones from in front of particular areas which they should not take them in relation to the sea being facilitated in eroding the coast. But you’re dealing now with an actual quarry.”

Rayneau Gajadhar, a St. Lucian businessman, whose firm has been awarded the lease, has told iWitness News that 99% of the aggregate produced at the quarry will be exported.

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4 replies on “St. Vincent ‘like a big stone heap with good soil,’ PM says”

  1. Well they thought Tourism would replace farming and they were wrong. Now they believe quarry will replace farming – nonsense!
    There may be compensation to the farmers just like that handed out to the Argyle land owners – nothing. The farmers will lose their crops and the fisher folks will lose fishing area. Can anyone tell me what happened to the fishing industry project on the Windward side of the island? Is it still open and flourishing? There is no project that Ralph can produce that is successful and employ many Vincentians. The airport is a typical example. I love flying straight home to SVG, but Vincentians are paying a price and there is no data to prove it’s making money to cover the expense.
    Vincentians farmers and fisher folks are independent people who don’t have to rely on government handout. They earn funds to educate their children and feed their families. One reason why no Vincentian goes hungry.
    The ULP behaviour shows how disrespectful and humiliating they treat Vincentians. The farmers and people in the area were not informed about the project and only found our when the crops were destroyed. Shame on you Carlos! Shame on you Caesar and shame on you Ralph!
    But then again these same people may have voted for the tri-tri man, who once bragged about shipping the products to foreign countries. Now he is destroying the same tri-tri industry.
    They quarry will just reintroduce slavery to the farmers who would be unable to feed and educate their families. Let them show what benefits the people of Layou derive form the quarries in the mountain side. How many people from Layou are employed at these quarries? The road to the quarries are also a mess. Once some repairs were done to encourage farmers to drive to Bellwood and other areas to take care of the farmlands.
    There are many people suffering from asthma because of the dust that plagued the town for years, until I cried foul and wrote about it. Very little was done to correct the problem. All the debris from the quarry flows down to Jackson Bay (our love beach where many of us spent hours in our youthful days). Today any rough waves turns the water brown because of the filth from the quarry. As a child we only saw this then there was a big rain storm.
    Why is Ralph and Julian picking on the Leeward side and the Leeward people to destroy their lives and environment? The people of Layou fought like hell to retain control of the water, which ironically is the life blood of Vincentians during disasters.
    Vincentians you have to eat what you sow! Here is another problem on the horizon – carnival. Ralph believes the majority of his voters are mas’ players, so he allows big jump and wine events on the island. The virus increased in SVG after Nine Mornings. The same thing will happen if there in carnival.
    So watch out Vincentians!

  2. The ecological make up of a land did not just happen pointlessly but for environmental conservation as conceived by nature.
    Now, on one hand there is this big hype by the Minister of Finance in seeking international grants due to his concern to ‘Climate Change’ and its potential impact on the next generation, but on the other hand; are all these elaborate developments that now puts a demand for building materials. Thereby; the urgent needs for this QUARRY. Let’s stop seeing our people as unwise when the entire egocentric purpose is driven by the greed of the already rich to the detriment of the poor. Again I ask; who are the stakeholders of these infrastructures? May I remind you that the employment creates today will cause the destruction of tomorrow? Are our youths aware of the role they should be playing in this subject; and how it is REALLY ABOUT THEIR FUTURE and very little about employment?

  3. 99% that means beside the handful of people they will employ there will be no benefits to SVG. the scamp will be the only beneficiary. HE WILL SELL OFF THE GRENADINES RIGHT UNDER ALL YOU NOSES, JUST WATCH.

  4. The ecological make up of a land did not just happen pointlessly but for environmental conservation as conceived by nature.
    Now, on one hand there is this big hype by the Minister of Finance in seeking international grants due to his concern to Climate Change and its potential impact on the next generation, but on the other hand; are all these elaborate developments that now puts a demand for building materials. Thereby; the urgent needs for this quarry. Let’s stop seeing our people as unwise when the entire egocentric purpose is driven by the greed of the already rich to the detriment of the poor. Again I ask; who are the stakeholders of these infrastructures? May I remind you that the employment creates today will cause the destruction of tomorrow? Are our youths aware of the role they should be playing in this subject; and how it is REALLY ABOUT THEIR FUTURE and very little about employment?

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