One of the many challenges facing the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique is the issue of air and sea travel.
National Democratic Congress caretaker for that electoral constituency, Tevin Andrew touched on his concerns in this area at the party’s weekly press briefing on Monday.
Andrew said the 8-seater aircraft, which serves the sister islands only seats six passengers and makes about two trips per day depending on the circumstances. He said the only other form of transportation between Grenada and the sister isles is the Osprey, which accommodates sea travel and has recently cut back on its trips and now makes one journey per day instead of two.
Andrew said this limited travel facilities negatively affects the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique including members of the Diaspora and consequently the tourism industry.
According to the NDC caretaker, a survey explained why the other Grenadine islands are doing better at tourism than Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The conclusion he said was that the St. Vincent Grenadine islands are easier to access than Grenada’s.
He said this situation put untold pressure on the people of the smaller Grenada islands as they have to travel to the mainland for many basic things and with the small aircraft they have to book months in advance. He added that if in an emergency they have no option but to charter the plane, especially in a case where the Osprey has already left.
Andrew thinks the way forward is negotiation with the operators of the Osprey or whichever craft plies the seas between Grenada and Carriacou and the airline services to find a practical solution.
He also suggested extending the runway at the Lauriston Airport in Carriacou so that it could accommodate larger aircraft, which will have a larger carrying capacity.
Andrew pointed out that the NDC policy agenda speaks to extending the Lauriston runway to accommodate up to 55-seater aircraft and that will help to deal with the issue of travel for Carriacouians and Petite Martiniquians.
He further pointed that while both the Osprey and the airline have made their decision based on business considerations, the responsibility lies solely at the feet of the Member of Parliament who has been elected to look after the interest of the People of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. He is not convinced the Hon. Elvin Nimrod has done enough in that regard.
He recalled that there were times in the past when 19- seater aircrafts were landing in Carriacou and today many years later with advances in all kinds of areas we can only muster an 8-seater carrying six passengers.
Andrew issued a call to the Members of Parliament that he and other members of the NDC stand ready to join the discussion and brainstorm to find a remedy to the situation.
He said it is not about partisan politics but about finding a way that the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique could be satisfied.
Andrew also called on Minister Nimrod to update the nation of his government’s plan to move the port of Carriacou from Hillsborough to Harvey Vale.
The minister had announced this intention in April 2015 describing the Hillsborough facility as an accident waiting to happen, a danger to users etc. Andrew wants the minister to explain whether those descriptions no longer apply.