A proposed plan to build an airport in St Lucy is not flying with some residents of the northernmost parish.
Many believe there are more pressing issues such as health services and the condition of the roads.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport Richard Sealy yesterday revealed that “serious approaches” had been made by at least two interests – one local and the other international – regarding the construction of an airport in the north of the island.
And, much to the delight of Member of Parliament for the area Denis Kellman, Sealy told parliamentarians as he led off debate on the Civil Aviation (Amendment) Bill, 2016, that St Lucy had been identified as an ideal location for this airport.
However, Harmony, St Lucy resident Roger Feliciano had a difficult time understanding why the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration would even consider such a facility when roads in the constituency were in such a terrible state.
“Before I even get into airport talk, the roads in St Lucy are horrible and the Minister of Housing [Kellman] seems not to recognize this. We have been suffering for a long time with the roads and we’ve been asking him and he has yet to acknowledge us or do anything about it,” a clearly frustrated Feliciano told Barbados TODAY.
Feliciano took the opportunity to hit out at the DLP, complaining that its St Lucy parliamentarians who served as ministers repeatedly allowed the condition of the roads to deteriorate.
“This is a growing thing with the Democratic Labour Party because I remember even when Evelyn Greaves was [the representative for St Lucy] the roads were in a bad situation too; and he left, Kellman took over and nothing has happened for us.”
Feliciano also questioned the wisdom of constructing an airport in the parish, suggesting it would become “a gateway” for illicit drugs and firearms.
“Why would you want an airport in St Lucy? I think an airport in St Lucy at this point is a gateway for drugs and guns and therefore it needs to be reconsidered. There are simply more pressing issues like the Pie Corner bus service . . . so the idea needs to be reconsidered. You can’t just drop an airport in St Lucy simply because some big international guru is interested.” Feliciano insisted.
Similar sentiments were shared by Hugh Babb of Checker Hall who stressed that now was not the time to spend money on an airport.
In fact, Babb recommended that the funds be spent elsewhere, including on roads and an upgraded health centre in neighbouring St Peter.
“The first priority should be the roads; the roads need fixing and rather than the Government spend money on an airport, spend some money on the roads.
“The hospital and the pharmacy, upgrade it. Let the Maurice Byer Polyclinic in St Peter be a 24 hour clinic that people in St Lucy if they’re sick, they won’t have to travel all the way to Queen Elizabeth Hospital and possibly die on the way. These are issues we should deal with first. The airport could be something planned for the future, but at this time it isn’t necessary,” Babb said.
Tuesday’s annnoucement by Sealy – along with Kellman’s response – was ridiculed by Barbadians who turned to blogs and social media to share their views. They used words like “laughable”, “madness” and “clownish” to describe it.
However, not everyone was opposed to the idea. David Boyce of The Crick Cove Bay in St Lucy believed that an airport was long overdue.
Boyce echoed Kellman who, in welcoming yesterday’s revelation, said that as far back as 1977 National Hero the Right Excellent Errol Barrow had acquired land in St Lucy for an airport.
“Barrow already purchased the land down Spring Hall right down to Friendship and Coconut Hall but when he was thinking about it he lost his Government . . . [and] ever since Kellman was saying it and it is time that Barbados gets a second airport. These private jets have nowhere to park. If we are a tourism destination we have to cater to the millionaires,” Boyce told Barbados TODAY.
And in response to concerns about the condition of the roads, Boyce recommended the airport as the perfect remedy.
“As soon as the airport is constructed up here, the roads will be fixed soon after. Just think about it,” he assured.