Sunday, July 25, 2021
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Another avoidable tragedy

Dr Mitchell’s concept of development is to build a 5 star hotel wherever he can in little Grenada, to provide low paying jobs in a depressed economy.

This mindset is beginning to take its toll on a small island environment that begs for sensitive and eco-friendly design to harmonize with our hilly terrain, and to recognize that the physical transformation which it seeks to create, must improve not destroy the natural views and vistas and the ecosystems of which we are blessed – and now call PURE GRENADA.

When one looks at the extent (scope) and the architectural design of the KAWANA BAY Resort development, it brings to mind a non-tropical concept, without the feel for climate and natural ventilation – just a plethora of concrete and glass which would result in enormous consumption of electricity when in use – during this pandemic era and beyond, as we contemplate a post pandemic economy in renewable energy.

The project has no empathy with the contour of the site and the aesthetic and social milieu in which it is located, instead a package development strategy, which has been transported from a cold climate – solely for monetary exploitation by the promoters – while ravaging our environment.

But Grenada has a Minister responsible for physical planning and development, together with a Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, a Ministry of the Environment and above all a Physical Planning Unit (PPU) which is the technical arm of the Planning Authority that is under the control of Dr Mitchell.

The sad situation is – should any or all of these Ministries close their doors tomorrow, it would not make a difference, as the functionaries in charge appear to be clueless in the execution of their portfolios, as witnessed at Kawana Bay and other similar large resort development like La Sagesse and Levera.

Not forgetting the green blue algae bloom on Grand Anse beach caused by the defective design of the outfall from Silversands Hotel, that will eventually destroy the beach and in time kill its protective coral reef (Leon Taylor 2018 OAS report), which brings to mind an earlier OAS report undertaken about 2 decades ago which states that Grand Anse has reached its maximum building capacity without damage to the ecosystem which is now happening.

The question is therefore asked: On submission for approval – long before the project was implemented; was an EIA undertaken which is mandatory for such a project; what authority or authorities were involved or have responsibility for checking and reviewing the design and for granting “building approval” to such an oversize design package, on a hyper environmentally sensitive site at True Blue on Grand Anse beach?

Or was it just another CBI project — approved solely by the CBI minister without the necessary technical professional input and oversight which the CBI Board should have on site in order to ensure CBI monitoring during the post contract construction period?

This approach would have averted the acrimonious exchange between the prime minister and the developer as witnessed recently on the global media. What is interesting however, is that the controversy which has emerged in the public domain is one of a monetary consideration, where the developer is claiming and requesting additional CBI funding according to the contract, while the Prime Minister is contending that additional funds requested is not within CBI contractual agreement.

As a Chartered Architect (retired) who has designed and project managed multimillion dollar contracts on three continents and in the Caribbean funded by the World Bank, the Canadian International Development Agency and the Caribbean Development Bank, it would appear that one or both parties to the contract have failed to comply (honour) certain conditions of the agreement.

For clarity, an international building contract or for that matter any (building) contract is a binding agreement between the parties to adhere to the spirit of the contract, especially in meeting their financial obligations, except where changes are required and mutually agreed due to unforeseen (site) conditions /circumstances (force mejure / act of God) during the implementation of the project.

It would appear, according to the Prime Minister — that the sum requested by the developer cannot be justified under the contract agreement, while the developer’s lawyer has stated that funds requested are an integral part of the contract agreement, and withholding same would jeopardize the successful completion of the project.

Is this another fiasco like the GRENLEC acquisition, where the Prime Minister’s interpretation of what is legally binding by his government is not fully understood? or is it a case where the Prime Minister thinks that as a government it can unilaterally abrogate conditions of a contract agreement without consequences!

This nonchalant and arrogant attitude, where the NNP government thinks that it can do as it pleases and dishonour legally binding agreements, have caused Grenadians taxpayers millions of dollars over the years and we’re now heading for another avoidable and expensive lawsuit which the developer has brought against the government to the International Tribunal that deals with contract disputes. The occurrence is regrettable in this pandemic period, which poor Grenada can ill afford — as teachers, public servants and other government employees await with bated breath for their 4% overdue increment for 2021.

The time is now long overdue where this attitude by any respectable government must be a thing of the past. It however seems quite clear to me as it is with a majority of Grenadians that redemption by this government will not happen — if anything, it would become worse. The call therefore, is that WE THE PEOPLE and more especially the YOUTH must come to the rescue of our country, by initiating with urgency the PASSING PARADE, in order to usher in a new dispensation which empowers our people in an equitable, prosperous and just society (Paradise Regained).

By Norris Mitchell                                                 

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