August 6, 2004
SVG moves closer to getting international airport

In about six years, Vincentians should have an international airport on mainland St. Vincent. That’s the time Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves anticipates it will take to get a jet port on mainland St. Vincent. And the most likely site for that venture is Argyle. {{more}}
Very soon, a decision will be made as to what happens at Argyle, about eight miles North East of capital city Kingstown, or at Kitchen, the other area under consideration for construction of a jet port on the mainland.
But as far as Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves pointed out in his debate in the House of Assembly last Tuesday, it looks increasingly that Argyle will be the preferred choice. And he disclosed that we have no option but to proceed with construction of the facility at Argyle.
“We have no option, and when a society has no option, we just have to do it,” Dr. Gonsalves said.
The Prime Minister was outlining aspects of the Canouan Airport Authorisation Bill 2004. Arguments are expected to continue when the House resumes next Tuesday August 10.
That Bill is geared at allowing the government to borrow US$15M from Scotiatrust and Merchant Bank of Trinidad and Tobago to upgrade the Canouan Airport.
But the debate on the Canouan jetport encompassed the question of air access here.
Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves justified the use for the money and with the politically charged atmosphere here, he was keen to keep listeners to the debate carried live on radio and on Channel Four television, of the government’s vision for development.
Gonsalves was cautious in his pronouncements on airport developments as they relate to the mainland, but it seemed fairly obvious that Argyle will be the sight chosen.
He disclosed that a decision had to be formalised to determine what happened there, but Dr. Gonsalves has “sketched the framework of his vision” to bring economic fortunes to this multi-island state.
Minimal expansion works are earmarked for E. T. Joshua airport, located two miles east of capital city Kingstown. But the measures on E. T. Joshua will be a stopgap approach, until works at Argyle are complete.
Dr. Gonsalves envisions that with the jet port at Argyle, mainland St. Vincent will be in for progress.
The airport will complement the cross country road, which the Prime Minister anticipates will dovetail with the development. And prospects of further economic enhancement will be heightened with the blend of the cross country road and the airport.
Additionally, hotel development is being realised with prospects of the new airport nearer on the horizon. Also, the likelihood of cruise ship coordination to take advantage of the jet port are advantages to be derived.
However, Opposition leader Arnhim Eustace while happy that tourism development is done in Canouan, expressed concern with the terms for the loan for the Canouan airport.
Eustace took issue with the seven per cent fixed interest rate attached to the US $15 M loan.
Southern Grenadines representative Terrance Ollivierre also contributed to that Bill. He was pleased with the efforts to improve the tourism product in the Southern Grenadines of which Canouan is part.