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Airport project controversy stems from lack of open discussion- John Lewis

The lack of open discussion on the Airport Project is a major issue and which has been blamed on the controversy surrounding the project. Photo: VINO/File
Left: Talk show host John Lewis. Right: Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr The Hon Kedrick D. Pickering has dubbed the airport project a done deal. Photo: VINO/File
Left: Talk show host John Lewis. Right: Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr The Hon Kedrick D. Pickering has dubbed the airport project a done deal. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- “A major issue,” is how co-host of the Speak Your Mind show on JTV channel 55, Mr John Lewis has described the lack of “honest” discussion by the Government of the Virgin Islands regarding the proposed runway extension project at the Terrance B. Lettsome International airport on Beef Island.

This discussion appears to be a dominating subject on the ground and on the talk shows, with several talk show hosts and callers seemingly affected by one aspect or the other of the project.

Lewis’ remarks came following the host Richard C. de Castro raising the matter on September 10, 2016, stating that a full discussion with everyone is needed, particularly because all information regarding the airport works received is via the media but not from the horse’s mouth.

“… And perhaps that’s where the problem is, the lack of open discussion,” Lewis pointed out.

It was Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) that first and accurately broke the news that two companies- China Communications Construction Company Ltd which the Administration favours and IDL Group that merged with Sir Robert McAlpine Holdings and local partner ADC of the Virgin Islands- that made the final list on the runway extension project.

According to information received from our sources, China Communications Construction Company Ltd’s bid was approximately $154 Million, along with many giveaways, concessions, lots of fee waivers and overseas labour and equipment and IDL Group, the Sir Robert McAlpine Holdings and local partner ADC bid, was reportedly $199 Million.

Project should be spearheaded by locals

John argued that the expertise exists locally for this project since the last expansion of the airport was undertaken with the involvement of VIslanders and if the required technical talents cannot be found in the territory, they can be sourced from Virgin Islanders living abroad.

“For those who think we don’t have the local expertise, I don’t agree,” he remarked.

The choice of a contractor for the Airport Runway Extension Project has divided the Dr D. Orlando Smith alliance, with many long-time NDP supporters, contractors, and Heavy Equipment Operators from the Seventh and Eighth Districts making representation to keep the money local.

No Public review on anything

De Castro said it was time to have a “serious” look at the various aspects of the project and have a full discussion on it, adding that people should be allowed to provide an input on matters affecting them.

He pointed to neighbouring St Thomas, which he said whenever any project is being considered it is required by law to be reviewed by the public. Meanwhile, Lewis said he is unable to comprehend the reasons why there is no presentation to the public especially when millions of dollars are concerned and where it affects people’s lives.

“None of us have all the answers or else we wouldn’t need anybody else,” de Castro pointed out. “We are a growing country and we didn’t get to where we are by accident, a lot of hard work went into doing a lot of things and a lot of sacrifices were made for us to get to where we are. And to see us make a major shift to the point where we are prepared to exclude all the people that put us where we are today, I think that is not a good in my opinion.”

According to the local press, the China Communications Construction Company is on a World Bank blacklist for alleged corruption of one of its subsidiaries and furthermore, the NDP had hidden information about the airport project before the 2015 snap election.

22 Responses to “Airport project controversy stems from lack of open discussion- John Lewis”

  • johnny (12/09/2016, 08:54) Like (9) Dislike (3) Reply
    Really John Lewis, the problem is that we are bankrupt. Stop talking piss.
  • Sherry (12/09/2016, 08:55) Like (11) Dislike (2) Reply
    Please don't sign anything that would obligate the BVI before any public presentation and discussion.
    Many of those new planes would descend right over people's houses affecting quality of life.
    The start dropping over west end every hour and are disruptive to the tranquility of the community.
    Why don't people count? Why is this still on the board when the NDP's house needs to get in order, finances need to be investigated, and if there is truly a need for such an expensive project. It will change the character of the BVI, it is not practical.
    • Scary Mary (12/09/2016, 11:27) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
      Don't worry Sherry, since the government has no commitment from ANY AIRLINES whatsoever, the noise problem really won't be an issue. One hand clapping does not make a sound.

      Even if they do manage to get a commitment, there likely won't be more than 2 flights a week anyway.
      • Boo (12/09/2016, 19:49) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
        lol too funny if it wasn't our tax dollars pissing away on all of these hare-brained schemes. Where are the British Governor and the FCO when you need them?
  • wow (12/09/2016, 10:51) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Aircraft noise abatement are through land planning and flight operations restrictions. Flight restrictions can take the form of preferred runway use, departure flight path and slope, and time-of-day restrictions. These tactics are sometimes controversial, but you can't avoid it, and in case you didn't know... The govt won't look at that, when it's only will be a few minutes a day a large plan will case any significant noise problem.
    • Sherry (14/09/2016, 13:27) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      its happening now over West End. many flights a day, maybe to VG, maybe private, but it is cumulative.
  • facts man (12/09/2016, 11:35) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    NDP started the Hospital with outside spanish contractors who finish it Jamsie..NDP started the cruise pier EXT with that Jamaican dude and a Canadian company,who bail them out Jamsie ,Airport who will bail them Jamsie so i don't know why our government can't see what's going on, wake up Doc, wake up, you sleeping too much these days.
    • @factsman (12/09/2016, 12:42) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      The Premier is currently in New York for Fashion Week.
      • ha (12/09/2016, 20:31) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
        @factsman, if he is, I hope he is not falling asleep while the models is walking down the runway.
  • Dim Sum (12/09/2016, 12:00) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    The blue site is reporting that to date USD $5 mill. + has been spent on the TBLIA expansion. This is sum of monies expended wouldn't be a problem in differing times when the cash-flow was like a gravy train; however in-light of the failing infrastructure and turn-around time for Gov. managed projects (SCB road-works, 6th form lack of classrooms, VG polyclinic @ standstill etc.) with the associated over-runs - we are in deep manure. The Pier Project has failed to materialize in the windfall revenues urgently needed; yet we are full-steam ahead don Brandy-wine Bay reclamation and other not-so-needed non-essential projects. Sewerage project at a standstill, water pipeline distribution - floundering along and on and on. Can someone please tell me what is our current (as of last fiscal quarter) DEBT to GDP ratio is? What is the total accumulated Government debt? What is the status with the NHI and SSB pensions? From where I sit all I can see are over-paid cronies and unbelievable governmental waste.
  • Disagree With Mr.. (12/09/2016, 13:07) Like (0) Dislike (3) Reply
    Don't no what Mr Lewis talking about. They were many many discussions about this project including full screen slides. I think Mr Lewis think because he wasn't apart of the discussions that there were none. He wants to be the man... Humble yourself Mr. U can't be in every thing...
  • wize up (12/09/2016, 13:33) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
    I have a question: what did Lewis wanted from this NDP government that he did not get; because your don't hear from some of us until we not having things our way.....it is so funny the number of the NDP cronies that are suddenly beating up on the NDP; the one fellow took them before the court however some of us have no clue what going on in that matter(big man hall all the ministers to the court house)....
  • here we go again (12/09/2016, 13:37) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    This can be debated for years but the bottom line is that every bank has refused to give the government the money to do the expansion.
    When a bank refuses to lend to a government then we know for sure we have problems.!!!
  • dutty & badminded (12/09/2016, 13:40) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    Those greedy-ass long look/east end contractors want the work for themselves alone. Every job in the east for people in the east alone but when it is in town or VG it is for everybody (a free for all).
  • See (12/09/2016, 13:57) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    The.government just assumes we are all ignorant and complacent . Unless we stand up they are right . The airport plan is moronic
  • !!!!!!!!! (12/09/2016, 14:00) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Jamsie, DON'T BAIL THEM OUT THIS TIME. They put themselves in the mess, let them figure it out for themselves this time. Bunch of book sense but no common sense people.
  • POPE (13/09/2016, 00:19) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    When will we be able to call VIP Radio and NDP radio,i guess close to election, ah yo thing we foolish this time we moving the whole slate..
  • Scary Mary (13/09/2016, 08:07) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    No Mr. Lewis, the airport controversy stems from the fact that government (like it or not) intends to spend millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars WE DO NOT HAVE! In addition, there is no information of any kind that supports a return on investment, nor does government have any kind of commitment from ANY airlines for regularly scheduled flights.

    The controversy also stems from the "done deal" management style this government continues to demonstrate, despite the many objections from the people who put them where they are.

  • Airport authority (13/09/2016, 08:44) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    NDP why are we tryin to build a bigger airport without a commitment from any major airline to land here. U are want to build an airport for your rich white friends private jets makes no sense. U gave a 30 passenger airline 7 mil to fly to mia and they charging $900.DOLLARS RT TO MIAMI WHO IS THIS SERVICE REALLY FOR


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