As one of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ harshest critics of the need for Argyle International Airport (AIA), I wish to completely and unequivocally disassociate myself from a tiny Vincentian cabal of “Ralph-haters,” surely worthy of the prime minister’s “Internet crazies” label, who for years have posted dozens of articles, sometimes by their own admission copied to overseas airlines and airport approval bodies, arguing that AIA would unsafe for landing because: (1) the local wind studies were inadequate, perhaps even fabricated; (2) the runway and allied structures were not built to acceptable international standards; (3) the drainage system for the Yambou River running under the runway will soon rupture due to improper design; (4) the whole airport would be chronically flooded by heavy rains; and (5) the remote Soufriere volcano will soon bury it in a sea of lava (at least if international terrorists don’t blow it up first).
My own position on the physical features of AIA is a simple one. Since I have no engineering expertise, I cannot comment on such complex technical issues.
I also contend that the airport must have been built to minimally acceptable global standards, not only because it has been subjected to independent oversight during its various construction phases, but because if it failed to be approved by the relevant regional and international airport authorities, that would mean the end of the Dr. Ralph Gonsalves regime, a government that has literally paraded AIA as its legacy project since 2005, winning the last three elections in the process.
The recent decision by the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) to allow flights to and from AIA beginning on February 14, 2017, supports my contention while suggesting that the hysterical rantings of the Internet crazies are groundless. The pending certification of the airport by the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO), which the prime minister claims has been overseeing the construction of the airport from its conception, should bury these mad assertions once and for all.
Or maybe not. Most of these Internet crazies are simply living in a Donald Trump-like universe of “alternative facts” that no amount of credible and provable evidence could ever overturn.
I have repeatedly challenged these critics, almost none of whom have any professional engineering credentials, to substantiate these and other wild claims with at least some independent and verifiable evidence but have only received equivocation, personal vilification, and laughable charges of envy, grudge, spite, and malice in return.
While political zealots can be dangerous and though the most extreme of them may need medical treatment, the public interest also requires that their wild rantings be constantly challenged by demanding that they “put up or shut up.” Unfortunately, none of them has proved capable of doing either.
This is the 44th in a series of essays on the folly of building Argyle International Airport.
My other AIA essays are listed below:
1. Get ready for a November election in St Vincent and the Grenadines! But which November?
2. Lessons for Argyle International Airport from Canada's Montreal-Mirabel International Airport
3. Lessons for Argyle International Airport from the cruise ship industry
4. Lessons from Target Canada for Argyle International Airport in St Vincent
5. Lessons from Trinidad and Tobago for Argyle International Airport
6. The dark side of tourism: Lessons for Argyle Airport
7. Why Argyle won't fly: Lessons from Dominica
8. Ken Boyea and the Phantom City at Arnos Vale
9. Airport envy Vincie-style
10. Fully realising our country's tourism potential
11. Airport without a cause
12. The unnatural place for an international airport
13. The Potemkin Folly at Argyle
14. False patriotism and deceitful promises at Argyle
15. Airport politics and betrayal Vincie-style
16. Phony airport completion election promises, Vincie-style
17. Is Argyle International Airport really a ‘huge game-changer for us’?
18. Has the cat got your tongue, prime minister?
19. More proof that Argyle won't fly
20. Our very own Vincentian cargo cult at Argyle
21. The missing Argyle Airport feasibility studies
22. The world's four most amazing abandoned airports
23. Farming, fishing, and foolish talk about Argyle International Airport
24. Argyle Airport amateur hour
25. St Vincent's place in the world of travel
26. Investing in St Vincent's tourism industry
27. The Argyle Airport Prophecy: What the numbers say
28. Did the IMF drink the Comrade's Kool-Aid?
29. Why Qatar? Why St Vincent and the Grenadines?
30. Foolish words about Argyle International Airport
31. 'If I come, you will build it': Lessons from the Maldives for Argyle International Airport
32. City lessons for Argyle International Airport
33. Who really lands at Arnos Vale?
34. No ticky, no washy - Argyle-style
35. We have met the Vincentian tourism enemy and he is us
36. Hotel St Vincent
37. Why St Vincent Island has so few tourists
38. Why Bequia is a gem of the Antilles
39. Why seeing is believing in the Caribbean tourism industry
40. St Vincent's cruise ship numbers are much lower than we think
41. Lessons from Barbados for Argyle Airport
42. Cuba's tourism rollercoaster: Lessons for Argyle Airport
43. What the world teaches Black Sands Resort and Villas