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Fri 4th Sep 2015

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Ivan O’Neal calls for the resignation of Gonsalves & Eustace for Argyle airport madness

Leader of SVG Green Party, Retired Royal Air Force Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons.), MSc, MBA, calls for the resignation of Ralph Gonsalves and Arnhim Eustace for the madness at Argyle Airport. The wind at Argyle blows East / West, yet the Argyle airport runway was built North / South.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) guidelines state that airport runways should be built in line with the prevailing wind. The runway at Argyle airport is perpendicular to the East / West wind and is subjected to dangerous, strong, gusty crosswinds. This is madness. We are left with a White Elephant.

Under the present North / South runway orientation, Argyle airport will not get an international licence to operate passenger flights. $800 million has been wasted.

The Argyle airport should have never been started - there was no five year mandatory wind study carried out prior to starting the project. The 5 year wind study would have shown that the wind is East / West and that a runway going North / South would not be safe. The Leader of the Opposition should have demanded a 5 year wind study. There was no cost-benefit analysis either to show any financial justification for the project.

Mr Ivan O’Neal has a BSc (hons.) degree in Accounting and Finance from Oxford Brookes University, England, and in his opinion, the project should have never been awarded to a statutory company – IADC - created by the ULP government.

The Director of Audit had made several complaints to the ULP government and the NDP opposition about the non-functioning of the Public Accounts Committee, as under section 75 (2) of the SVG 1979 Constitution, saying it weakens parliamentary control and is a source of frustration of the audit exercise.

Arnhim Eustace is the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. The project cost was set at $502 million, but is now over $800 million. This is incredible, and still, the Public Accounts Committee is not functioning. Who will pay back the wasted $800 million to the people of SVG – Gonsalves, Eustace, the ULP regime?

The Argyle airport project has been killed by the wrong runway orientation of North / South. If the Argyle airport project had been awarded to a private company, then at least the wasted $800 million could be recovered from the private company. There was has been no Parliamentary control or accountability of IADC.

Pages 34 and 35 of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) recommended a runway orientation of (02/20). Had the ULP regime put the runway at (02/20) and the Argyle Airport failed to get a licence, then they could claim back the wasted $800 million from the EIA consultant.

The North / South runway orientation has killed Argyle airport. The change in the orientation should have been rejected by the Public Accounts Committee, as under section 75 (2) of the SVG 1979 Constitution, but the Public Accounts Committee is not functioning.

We were told the Argyle Airport would become operational in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, May 2015, then September 2015. We are in September 2015. The Argyle Airport is not operating. We are being lied to time and again. We must put the needs of Vincentians, first not tourists, and abort Argyle airport.

From day one, SVG Green Party told the ULP government that the orientation of the Argyle airport runway was wrong and that they should abort the Argyle airport project. SVG is being operated like a failed state without a constitution. Gonsalves and Eustace are responsible for the Public Accounts Committee. Gonsalves and Eustace should resign for wasting $800 million.

Any attempt to change the Argyle airport runway from the wrong orientation of North / South to East / West would result in hundreds of millions of dollars more being wasted. It would also take at least four more years.

A Green Government will abort the Argyle Airport project and convert the site into a wind farm for renewable energy and an industrial estate for small businesses.

In SVG, we have a weak and grossly incompetent government and a weak and grossly incompetent opposition. We need new blood in the SVG Parliament, people who have the economic and financial competency to create a strong economy and thousands of new jobs.

At the next general election, vote SVG Green Party for economic and financial competency, a strong economy, thousands of new jobs and money in your pocket.

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