The week that was
September 13, 2016

After literally holding their collective breath for the last few years, residents of Arnos Vale can literally breathe again. After a few decisive orders from the Planning Board, the thick, acrid smoke constantly pouring out of Chill Spot Bar and Grill and General Hardware will soon vanish, allowing neighbourhood homes and churches to open their doors and windows again. The proprietors of the businesses are crying foul, and pointing to the scores of restaurant employees who are soon to be on the breadline. That is a shame. But we recall this smoke being an issue since 2014, and a cause célèbre on the radio and the political platform during last year’s election campaign.{{more}} It seems that the offending grillers did precious little to address the Planning Board’s concerns, preferring to call their bluff. It was only when it was clear that the Planning Board was serious that a few belated and half-hearted fixes were attempted. Interestingly, those who were accusing the Government of dragging their feet on this matter are now opportunistically crying crocodile tears for the “victims” of Government action. Hopefully, Chill Spot will remedy their problems, apply for fresh planning approval in advance, and soon be back in operation. Until then, score one for the rule of law. And clean air.


Victories all around! NDP leader Arnhim Eustace must have breathed a sigh of relief when popular potential challenger St Clair Leacock signalled that he had no interest challenging for the top job at the NDP’s upcoming convention. Most in the media, and many rank-and-file NDP members were salivating for a leadership battle royale after Eustace yet again played bridesmaid to Ralph Gonsalves’ fourth consecutive electoral triumph. Equally happy must be young lawyer Israel Bruce, who crushed his absentee competition to be unanimously selected by the NDP’s South Central Windward constituency as their standard-bearer in the next General Election. Bruce will challenge young veteran Saboto Caesar, who seems solidly entrenched in the constituency and as a central part of the ULP’s future. But general elections are presumably far away. This week was one of unopposed landslides and victories by default.  If only things were this easy for NDP candidates when they competed against actual opponents.


The myth of SVG as a peaceful and idyllic paradise is just that: a myth. Crime is on the upswing. Last week, we recorded our 21st homicide, when a Toyota carrying young Sorono McKie was sprayed with bullets in Glen. In the same general area, a half-naked, gun-toting rapist/robber continues to terrorize women in East and West St George. Also, hotelier Kim Halbich and her son were bound and beaten at their home in the same general area by masked armed robbers who, thankfully, did not kill anyone. This sharp spike in crime is serious cause for concern, and a real test for our new Police Commissioner, who must act decisively to make residents feel safer. Murder, rape and robbery are an unholy trinity of ways to terrorize a community. Something must be done.

Through all of their travails and screw-ups, successive management teams at LIAT could always count on the unstinting support of PM Ralph Gonsalves and his Government. However, after another chaotic week of cancelled flights, re-routed passengers and lost luggage, Gonsalves’ Job-like patience with the regional carrier has apparently reached its limit. Godfred Pompey, the Prime Minister’s Permanent Secretary, wrote a scathing letter to LIAT, taking issue with the “unbearable and unreasonable” performance of the airline and the “lack of adequate service and poor scheduling” being offered to SVG. If you ever wanted a clear sign that the Argyle Airport is almost complete, here it is: The Vincy Government, looking past their dependence on a single carrier, and with visions of a hereafter populated by Virgins (and JetBlues), is finally feeling confident enough to call LIAT out for its increasingly unreliable and unacceptable service.
If I had a question in SVG Parliament
I’d ask the Minister of Education whether it made sense to expel 14 students of the Union Island Secondary School by rigidly applying an age limit, when Union Island lacks the type of adult or continuing education options that will help these children get beyond the status of “secondary school dropout.” Fourteen over-age students on tiny Union Island is a sign of failure of the system, not the students. And the same system that kicked them out of school will probably end up having to support them with social welfare and other payments.
Media Watch
The headline of The Searchlight’s back page screamed of the “Inhumane Action” of the people who witnessed an accident and reached for their cameras instead of helping the victims of an auto accident at Casson Hill. The article was accompanied by – what else? – pictures of the accident, taken by an intrepid Searchlight journalist. Was he/she also being “inhumane?”