FARMERS WHO operated on lots of lands at Richmond on the site earmarked for a quarry project are expected to receive compensation for the loss of the lands (lots 104-119) on which they farmed.
However, prime minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves who spoke on the matter as he led a tour of the area last week Friday, did not say how soon the payments would be made. He did say, however that he is speaking to the management of the Richmond Vale Academy which leases 29.8 acres of land from the Government at Richmond and in response to a query, the Academy is willing to give up about five acres of land for use by the displaced farmers to continue their farming.
The prime minister was accompanied on the visit to the quarry site by Minister of Works, Montgomery Daniel, Minister of Tourism and Parliamentary Representative for the area, Carlos James; Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar; Energy Minister, senator Julian Francis, along with government officials from various state agencies and departments.
Speaking to reporters, Gonsalves said it is estimated that there is about “25 million tons of quarry material to pull down.”
When calculated at the EC$2.00 per tonne which the developer, Rayneau Construction would be paying to the government, the prime minister said that works out to about EC$50 million over the duration of the lease which is for 30 years.
However, this amount could e adjusted when the agreement comes up for review after seven years as Gonsalves indicated that if there is any change as a result of the review the adjustment will be upwards and not downwards.
Added to the EC$2.00 per tonne charge, the prime minister said, “According to the agreement, any time we buy any material from them they are to sell us 8-percent below the price. They have to give us (the government) a discount.”
He lamented that the government is forced to import aggregate and even when neighbouring countries promise to provide aggregate it never materialised for one reason or another.
“It’s an absolute disgrace that we have so much stone in St. Vincent and we have to go to Barbados … Newfoundland! What happen … we doltish!” the prime Minister Gonsalves questioned.
He referred to the report from a study conducted early in the life of his ULP administration which identified Walliabou as the number one site for a quarry and Richmond as the number two site.
But any attempt to undertake quarry mining at Walliabou would have had to deal with the large human settlement making such an endeavour impossible.
“Down here, for 2,000 metres, there is no cluster of human settlement, except Richmond Vale,” Gonsalves stated.
He added that the St Lucia firm of Rayneau Construction which will be operating the quarry, is expected to invest about EC$30 million in the project.
Gonsalves also assured that there will be no mining in the river.
“Rayneau does not want anything to do with the river beds; he just wants to do the rock stone,” he pointed out. An official of Rayneau Construction confirmed this explaining that the rocks in the river beds while plentiful, would damage the teeth in the crusher, making such an endeavour a hugely expensive venture.
Speaking of the issues surrounding Cavali Rock, it was noted that the jetty would extend beyond and away from this landmark. There would be no dredging nor piling but the placement of huge rocks at the base, with smaller ones on top and the spaces between would allow for certain species of marine life to flourish, further enhancing the availability of fish in the area.
Site preparation is ongoing, and with the pier nearing completion, additional equipment is expected to land on site within the coming weeks. An addition to the agreement was also expected to be signed between the Government and the company within a matter of days following last Friday’s visit.