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Minister of Culture, Carlos James speaking at the ceremony in Kingstown on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.
Minister of Culture, Carlos James speaking at the ceremony in Kingstown on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.
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By Observer

We all heard the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Carlos James, at the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) prize giving ceremony, speaking of what will become of the existing port space in Kingstown, once the new one in “Bottom Town” is completed.

Among other things, he said: “…we intend to also build another cultural hub in Kingstown where we’re going to have a lot of land reclaimed, where the existing commercial port is — the new one that we are building, when that commercial port move further downtown, we’ll have a lot of space here in which we will construct a major cultural space for our creatives. We’re talking about shopping complexes, restaurants, an area where we can have the performing arts and, of course, the cultural hub will feature as a major part of that development…”

Here’s what we wish to inform you of. In several of our previous pieces on the port construction, we quoted extensively from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) loan appraisal document for the port construction. What we did not quote, however, is the part of the document that speaks to a “land use plan” that is acceptable to CDB.

Under subsection titled “ECONOMIC ANALYSIS”, section 4.32 Release of Old Port areas says this:

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“4.32 Release of Old port areas: The existing Kingstown Port includes approximately 3.4 Ha of land that will be available for other productive uses after project completion. Likewise, CPCP [Campden Park Container Port] sits on approximately 1.4 Ha of land that will be released from its current use following project completion. The proximity to the shoreline of both locations adds to the attractiveness for commercial or other activities. These lands therefore represent a valuable resource that will become available with the implementation of the project. For the purposes of this analysis, the economic value of these areas has been costed at prevailing real estate values. To ensure that this value is effectively realised, a plan must be developed that guides the permissible and non-permissible activities within these areas. To this end, it shall be a condition of the Loan and Grant that by December 31, 2020, GOSVG approves a land use plan for the areas that will be made available by this project that is acceptable to CDB.”

Another section of the document says this: “Except as the Bank may otherwise agree, the Borrower shall: by December 31, 2020, or such later date as the Bank may agree, approve a land use plan for the areas that will be made available by this Project that is acceptable to the Borrower and the Bank;”

In other words, at the end of Dec. 31, 2020, the government should have already submitted a plan to the CDB to detail how it intends to use the area where the current port is, once it is moved to the new location.

Minister James also mentioned the building out of the cruise terminal, once the port is moved. That is consistent with what was presented to the CDB as part of the loan appraisal. That is, the government has stated in its request for the loan that it intends to extend the cruise terminal into areas where the existing port is.

Our goal here is to inform you the reader, and we wish to publicly thank iWitness News for the accommodation, which allows us to do so.  We believe that the demarcation between being educated and being informed is intellectual curiosity and critical thinking. We encourage you to be curious. Ask questions of your leaders, even when things sound like they are in your favour.

For example, assuming the land use plan has already been completed, submitted to and agreed upon by CDB, are all these things listed by Minister James included in that plan? Is he aware of this stipulation that the CDB has established as a condition of the funding for the new port? We’ve searched for this land use plan but haven’t been successful thus far. If and when we are able to obtain it, we will bring you the details from it. Be informed!

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].