IDAC ready to move earth at Argyle site
February 23, 2007

IDAC ready to move earth at Argyle site

With 90% of home owners already agreeing to relocate from Argyle, Chairman of the International Development Airport Committee, IDAC, Dr. Rudy Mathias is saying that “the earth is ready to be moved” for the construction of the International Airport.

Mathias made this announcement during the visit of President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Hugo Chavez last Saturday, where he also thanked the leader and his people for their financial input to the project.

Mathias said 133 properties were evaluated at a total cost of EC$85 million, and IDAC was in the process of finalising the agreement with 10 other property owners with whom they have not yet come to an agreement with.{{more}}

The IDAC Chairman revealed, “Everyone is happy as far as I know and everybody in Argyle and Mount Pleasant are now committed to the building of the airport in this area. People are poised to move and we are ready to begin by mid-July. He said that IDAC would be spearheading the project and would do all in its power to meet the completion deadline of 2011. Matthias said that this country cannot build the airport by itself and a substantial part of the cost of the airport comes from the combined effort and contribution of Venezuela and Cuba.

He expounded that over 50% of the cost of the airport would be given to this country as a grant from the two Spanish speaking countries. Mathias noted that money from the grant would be coming in by mid-year, with building starting by July.

Mathias reinforced, “It is a challenge I want to extend to El Presidente Chavez because the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines are now ready, we are ready to move the earth, we are ready to build our airport.”

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves who also confirmed his readiness to commence the project took the time to express gratitude to the government and people of both Venezuela and Cuba for their assistance. He noted that their generosity was the philosophy of Che Guevara, Simon Bolivar, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez who would give without looking for favours in return.

He lamented, “British colonialism was in charge of this country from 1763-1979 and they didn’t leave us an international airport. The richest country in the hemisphere have never shown any interest in helping us build an international airport. It is revolutionary Cuba and revolutionary Venezuela that has been helping us to build that which we need. That is development.”

He mentioned that Cuban President Fidel Castro said he would come on the first plane when it is finished and he prayed to almighty God that Castro as well as Chavez would be able to make that trip on the inaugural flight at the proposed completion of the airport project in 2011.

Dr Gonsalves said the total cost of the airport was roughly US $200 million but this government was spending EC$85 million of its own money to purchase lands from 133 homeowners at Argyle and Mount Pleasant where the air facility would be constructed, but people would not be forced off their land.

He explained, “It has been quite a task in consultation but the people have been supportive. We have the law which says that we can acquire for a public purpose, but the law must not be used against the people. It must be used as a shield to protect them and that is why we have done it by way of discussion and consultation.”

Meanwhile President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Hugo Chavez said that the airport would be the largest airport in what he described as “the beautiful rosary of islands,” but was then corrected and told that it would be as large as Grenada’s Point Salines airport. The President however went on to say that when completed, this country’s international airport would complete the “triangle of airports” that include

Piarco in Trinidad and Point Salines and make air access easier for Vincentians and tourists.