Letter: Ralph Gonsalves does not think, thoughts pop into his head and that’s it!
The airport at Argyle was opened and the government spent over half a million dollars to charter a plane in an effort to deceive the citizen of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and they did it with what was too be a big hullabaloo, which had a humongous anti-climax.
But while the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines are wallowing in poverty, experiencing high unemployment, because of a lack of creativity and depleted industrial sector, while the health sector has seen a depletion in every facet and has experienced a rise in illness and types of illnesses, poor infrastructural development and maintenance and the general condition of the economy has been kept alive by a very thin thread that may break at any time, the incompetent prime minister saw fit to use scarce resources, in excess of half a million dollars, to prove a point to himself, by landing a passenger aircraft at the airport at Argyle.
Even an idiot knows such an aircraft could land at Argyle even before the excavation began. Because all that was needed is adequate wing clearance, and because the stretch of road at Argyle was not lighted, there were very few obstructions in the form of lamp, telephone and other poles to impede the wing space of a landing and taking off aircraft. You may argue that the width of the road was insufficient, but it was not. It will also be important to note that such aircraft do not need a concrete or asphalt surface to safely land on and, although such surface creates an optimum condition to accommodate such landing, however, a paved surface is not necessary.
It is important to note that the USA has some over 19,000 aircraft landing facilities, 3,030 of those are general purpose aviation facility, and 378 are commercial facilities. It will also be important to know, of all of the aviation facilities in the USA, only one-third of such have a paved concrete and/or asphalt surface.
So it was more than obvious, a large passenger aircraft is capable of safely landing at the airport at Argyle and at the ET Joshua airport at Arnos Vale. Have you ever wondered why the highways in the USA are so scarcely lighted? That is because each highway is considered an emergency landing facility for a major aircraft in distress. As a result, such roads are left void of any obstruction, lamp poles, etc. that will or may impede the wingspan of a major passenger aircraft if they were to land on any such highway.
On the issue of ICAO certification of the airport at Argyle, there are larger airports with separate landing and takeoff strips that are better equipped, with a larger volume and better trained emergency response facilities, with better trained staff than that which exists at the airport at Argyle, and those airports have been waiting for international certification for quite a while now. They have failed to meet the minimum standard that is required for such certification and need to invest more monies to ensure their facility meets the minimum standards that are required for certification.
Too often, I am forced to ask myself the question: what is Ralph E. Gonsalves and his people are thinking or are they thinking at all. For too often, judging by the things that they choose to do, I often wonder if it is a case where a thought pops into their head and without any critical or rational thinking and everyone in robotic fashion just agrees with whatever is said.
You would have thought that the brilliant Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines would have conserved the state monies to facilitate the upgrades that will be needed to expedite the costly certification process that must be tackled in order for the facility at Argyle to be used for the purpose for which it was built.
It has taken the Ralph E. Gonsalves government over ten years to try to get accreditation for some of the courses at the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College, and to date the school is not accredited by a recognized accreditation institution and none of the courses the school offers is accredited, not even by an regional facility/institution like the UWI or similar.
If it is so difficult to get an institution such as the Community Collage up to accreditations standards, how much more difficult and costly it will be to get the airport up to such a standard for international accreditation, where we can enjoy the privilege of our other Caribbean neighbours such as Barbados, St Lucia Grenada, etc.
It means since our Windward Islands sisters can do it, St Vincent and the Grenadines can do it also. So the question is: did the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines consult its Caribbean technocratic counterparts to ascertain what will be required to achieve and maintain international airport certification. I hope that they have come to terms with the fact that attaining an accreditation for the school or the airport is just the first stage, but it is almost as much work to keep such accreditation.
Another point, I would like to raise here is the fact that, on completion of the airport at Argyle, the government is going to make a new city in that space. Does that mean that Ralph Gonsalves is planning to put Mustique Airways out of business, or has he already envisioned that the airport may not see operations to the scale of Grantly Adams International or the Piarco International in Trinidad and Tobago?
I conclude this for the main fact that there is no special facility to accommodate the small size and the lightweight aircraft that are operated by Mustique Airways. It is totally impossible for an aircraft with the small size and light weight of aircraft used by Mustique Airways to coexist on the same facility as the large mass passenger aircraft, without special accommodations.
When you consider the magnitude of force that is expelled from such an aircraft in its takeoff; the air velocity of a 747’s exhaust and other aircraft with such power will blow the small, light aircraft used by Mustique Airways away like paper in the breeze.
This is a sign that Ralph E. Gonsalves and his “bush” engineers did not take a lot of obvious things into consideration. Now there is the fact of the existence of small single and twin engines aircraft at the airport at Argyle without any special accommodations and the question of how long it is going to take to have that airport at Argyle, how much more money they will have to spend to accommodate the certification process.
Allan H. F. Palmer