By Sharon Austin
CASTRIES, St Lucia (BGIS) — The time has come for the introduction of inter-island ferry transportation, said Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley on Monday evening, as she delivered remarks at the opening ceremony of the 65th Meeting of the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Authority in Saint Lucia.
Mottley told her audience, including the prime ministers of OECS countries, that the issue of inter-island transportation required their resolution and stated that she looked forward to engaging with them on matters pertaining to LIAT.
“But I do so cognisant that modalities that were relevant decades ago cannot continue to be relevant as we enter the third decade of the 21st century; and that a review of governance structures, while at the same time recognising how we operate, is absolutely critical if we are to ensure the viability of an airline that is really the life blood of this region,” she stressed.
The prime minister said that unless countries moved to the stage where they could facilitate movement of not just people but of vehicles and cargo, they would not get the full benefit of the space they occupied.
“In the circumstances, we have on a parallel track, to assume a position of readiness for the work that must be done to facilitate that action when it comes,” she suggested.
Given the complexity of governance that small states face, Mottley was of the opinion that there must be deeper forms of functional cooperation to reduce the costs of government and governance to individual states.
She said citizens in the region were concerned that while in transit at various sea and airports, they were not allowed to clear Immigration and go into the country.
“It makes no sense because it limits the extent to which those who visit our shores are capable of adding to economic activity in our countries… I have asked what are the legal obstacles preventing the movement of people who are within our jurisdiction, in our ports of entry who are in transit… I am yet to receive an answer that makes sense.
“In the circumstances, this is one of the first areas of priority that I would wish for us to discuss because our people are precluded from doing that which is most natural. If you are in a port of entry for six or eight hours there is no reason to be treated as a prisoner of war within the precincts,” Mottley contended.