January 20, 2006
PM: No Gimmick!

Sounding the need for no more “Doubting Thomases” in regard to construction of the International Airport, Minister with responsibility for Airport Development, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has reassured Vincentians that his government’s promise to build the long talked about International Airport was no election gimmick.

At a press conference on Wednesday January 18 at the Financial Complex, he urged citizens to “come aboard” and believe in the construction of the international air facility.{{more}}

The Prime Minister emphasised the point that it would not be possible for this country to talk about a Single Market and Economy if the service to transport people by air was poor. He stressed that Tourism was a top money-earning sector and enhanced airport access was another way of improving tourism.

He mentioned that already a soil testing lab had been opened with help from the Cubans and Venezuelans who would be assisting in the construction of the airport.

Dr.Gonsalves announced that by the middle of this year the designs will be ready for the airport and the process of re-locating residents from the proposed site at Argyle and negotiating their packages was on going.

The United Kingdom valuation firm of Browne and Company would commence work next week to work out compensation packages for Argyle residents who have submitted a copy of their title deed to the International Airport Development Company (IADC).

It was noted that $10 million of the initial $20 million was already paid from funds provided by the National Insurance Services, (NIS) to the IADC so that the entity could begin work.

Chairman of IADC, Dr Rudy Mathias noted that less than 5% of the residents who had to be relocated had had major grievances but emphasised that the IADC was in constant contact with residents through phone calls and letters.

Engineer Jeffery Cato thanked Argyle residents who co-operated with the airport development and pleaded with them to further co-operate during the soil investigation process.

In the interim, the E.T. Joshua airport at Arnos Vale will undergo renovations at a cost of $10 million to improve its facilities until the completion of the international airport in 2010/2011.