Argyle international airport – SVG’s second rite of passage
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January 11, 2013

Argyle international airport – SVG’s second rite of passage

by Jamal Browne Fri Jan 11, 2013

Construction progresses steadily at the site of the Argyle international airport in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The site remains open for public viewing — though caution is advised during construction hours.{{more}}

On weekends and public holidays, hundreds of Vincentians locally and from the diaspora satisfy their curiosities — cameras in hand — getting a first-hand view of and photo-documenting a development that is instinctively gratifying.

The debates and discussions continue — the inconsistencies of which are baffling to most who have actually witnessed the progress on the ground. The disparaging views are of particular concern to the progressives among us — troubling in fact. The perceived politics of the matter has driven many to the point of the occasional heated arguments on radio, street corners, and even within households.

Quite plainly, political viewpoint is the dividing force here – none other. Politics in my homeland has become a very personal issue — akin to one’s religious beliefs. There is no doubt in my mind that this deeply personal issue has in part or in whole formed our so called nationalist outlooks for or against this project.

Regardless of our perspectives, there can be no reasonable argument against the historic relevance of the construction of an international airport in St Vincent and the Grenadines. It is too large a capital project for any of us to ignore (EC$652 million), and too significant a development for any progressive Vincentian not to see possibilities amidst assured challenges.

Construction commenced on the terminal building in mid-August 2011. Significant progress has since been made, and the airport’s marque facility has now taken shape. There is no doubt that there remains a significant amount of work to be done, as the project managers, engineers, contractors, technicians and artisans cover their end in meeting the 2014 target for completion of all facilities.

However, the “pessimist’s” view of the mammoth to seemingly impossible task of sustaining and making profitable an international airport in St Vincent and the Grenadines should neither be ridiculed nor subscribed to. It should rather be viewed as a “problem statement” – one to which there is a solution.

Disapproving perspectives worthy of discussion are mainly based on some perception of the status quo – the indefinite protraction of the current economic challenges, and the society’s general lack of capacity. They are, however, fundamentally flawed in overlooking the dynamism of our society and its growing potential – with floods of amply trained young professionals returning from regional and international tertiary-level institutions every year.

If such statistics count for nothing, then we are wasting our time, and this generation might as well be deemed a hopeless bunch. But I am hopeful, and hundreds and possibly thousands of my contemporaries are also hopeful.

The Argyle international airport is significant enough

to be considered our nation’s second “rite of passage”, and it is my hope that it would be recorded in our history books as such. It is our nation’s greatest advancement since political independence, and its successful completion should be of utmost importance to us all.

Its completion – hopefully in 2014 – would not be deemed “an end”, but the beginning of this ensuing generation of young leaders’ remarkable journey into an era of unprecedented national development.

Jamal Browne is a Land Surveyor and the UNDP YTT Member SVG