SSU Fitness Club Raise Funds for Refurbishment of Belle Vue Community Library

April 14th, 2016 marked the 4th year since the establishment of the St. David branch of the SSU Fitness Club.

Belle Vue Community Library

Belle Vue Community Library

The club coordinated a week of activities to celebrate this milestone and also undertook some community improvement initiatives in their parish.

The Club on April 16 hosted a fundraiser concert at the St. David’s RC School, to raise monies towards the refurbishment of the Belle Vue community library, situated within a very short walking distance from the St. David’s R.C. School.

The concert  was well-attended by the wider community and featured performances from over twenty (20) local calypsonians, soca stars and dance and music groups from within the parish of St. David and across Grenada.

The St. David Parish representative for the 2016 Spicemas Carnival Queen Show,  Ruth Bailey, sponsored by Netherland’s Insurance, attended the event and made a special donation of classic children’s books which she collected over the past few weeks.

“Reading is one of the fundamental building blocks in the education of children and is required in so many aspects of our society. I hope that the donation of these books will benefit the children of the St. David’s R.C. School and the community, teach them new things and develop their imaginations so that they become aware of all the possibilities this world can hold for them” she said.

Bailey also expressed her desire to continue playing an active role in various community projects across the parish of St. David.

Vice President and Treasurer of the St. David SSU Fitness Club, Debbie Antoine,  thanked Bailey for her welcome contribution and commented on the fundraiser initiative.

“The community library is operational, but sorely in need of repair and upgrading. We intend to replace the windows and doors, some of which are being sponsored by Flow, undertake general repairs and maintenance, provide computers that the children in the community can use to do research for school papers and modernise the library”, she said.

“We hope to accomplish this and more in the upcoming months and encourage all, but especially the children in the community, to return to using the library on a regular basis” she added.

The SSU Fitness Club – St. David, has historically contributed to several community projects in the Parish, including the repainting of the Belle Vue Medical Station, painting of speed bumps and building of houses for deserving members of the community, as well as making donations to several schools in the parish.

Dexter Mitchell: “We have to get it right”

Local promoter, Dexter Mitchell has warned of possible legal action against an organisation responsible for collecting and paying royalty due to artistes for their work. In a letter dated April 18, 2016, Mitchell warned the General Manager of ECCO, Steve Etienne that his outfit might be forced to seek legal redress if ECCO fails to hand over payments due to local artistes for their work.

Dexter Mitchell -seems serious about taking court action

Dexter Mitchell -seems serious about taking court action

“Artistes are anxious to collect what is due to them”, he said in the letter.

“Payments to Artistes remain a grave concern and even though ECCO collected EC$62,000 in 2014 and EC$49,000 in 2015, to date no Grenadian Artistes has received any payments from ECCO”, Mitchell stated in the letter.

THE NEW TODAY understands that a number of promoters said they handed over thousands of dollars to ECCO in the past two years in the form of royalty.

However, several calypsonians and other music producers have alleged that they have never been paid by ECCO.

Following is the full text of Mitchell’s letter:

General Manager
ECCO
Castries
ST. LUCIA

Dear Mr. Etienne,

On September 23rd, 2015 I wrote an email to your Licensing Agent here in Grenada, Linda Straker. That email prompted a response from ECCO in the form of a meeting to address concerns of the music fraternity here in Grenada and the operations of ECCO. You attended and essentially chaired that meeting.

I was able to get a wide cross-section of industry personnel to attend the meeting. Several promises were made at the meeting, including payments to ECCO members here in Grenada and the attempt to get local radio stations to pay for the use of music.

As a follow to that meeting and the continued concerns of ECCO’s operations, I wrote to the Grenada Director of ECCO here in Grenada, Wayne Green, on March 06th, 2016. That letter prompted another visit by you to Grenada. This time ECCO announced the signing of two radio stations. The press release about that signing stated that two radio stations had obtained ‘copyright clearance’.

Upon further inquiries one was able to determine that the clearance referred to in the release meant that the two stations would not have to pay for the use of music for 12 months.

Interestingly, one of the stations is now carrying an ECCO-produced weekly program, at no cost to ECCO.

During your visit, ECCO arranged a ‘closed-door’ meeting with the local membership. Of the 37 local Artistes signed to ECCO less than ten attended the meeting.

Payments to Artistes remain a grave concern and even though ECCO collected EC$62,000 in 2014 and EC$49,000 in 2015, to date no Grenadian Artistes have received any payments from ECCO.

Let me reiterate the concerns, previously mentioned to your Director and Licensing Agent.

(i) Lack of Accountability

(ii) Lack of PR

(iii)Lack of Membership

(iv) The unprofessional approach by the representatives of ECCO

Interestingly, while your visit might have been made to counter, what you deemed one or two persons who don’t want to pay , the visit provided even more evidence of what is wrong with the operations of ECCO here in Grenada.

Mr. Etienne, it is not one or two persons looking to make mischief. The entire future of what could be a very lucrative and dynamic industry is at stake here. Grenada gave the world the phenomenon that is Soca Riddims and we also gave the world Jab Music. Our creativity is undisputed, what has plagued us is the principles of business that are needed to propel that creativity.

The emergence of ECCO was a breath of fresh air to the local industry. However, the industry is now deflated because of the consistent list of concerns expressed about ECCO’s operations.

As promised in the letter to Mr. Green we will be seeking legal redress against ECCO if there is no improvement. That deadline is quickly approaching and to date we have seen nothing indicative of improvements.

Let me reiterate, Mr. Etienne, no one is against paying for the use of music, Artistes are anxious to collect what is due to them, what remains of concern is the operations of ECCO and its Agents.
There has to be more to Artistes not getting paid, than just a simple, ‘Artistes are not filling out their forms correctly’.

I remain hopeful that the issues are correctly addressed and those, to whom the benefits are due, can receive those benefits. We have to get it right even if it means the replacement of ECCO by another Collection Agency.

Dexter Mitchell

Alternative Site to Camerhogne Park: “It’s a shame”

Trade unionist, Ray Roberts has labelled as an “utter shame” one of the sites identified as an alternative for the relocation of the Camerhogne Park.

The proposed alternative site to Camerhogne Park, close proximity to the Coyaba Hotel and Umbrella’s

The proposed alternative site to Camerhogne Park, close proximity to the Coyaba Hotel and Umbrella’s

Sen. Roberts, the leading figure on The Save Camerhogne Park Committee was updating members of the media on the work done so far by the grouping.

He identified the site as Knight’s Inn, which was once a hotel and at a later stage a military camp of the People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA) during the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution.

Members of the committee took the media to the site last Thursday, which is in close proximity to the popular Restaurant and Bar known as Umbrellas.

According to Sen. Roberts, this area is no where close to being conducive for the patronage of people who will be using the facility.

“This is an adult area, this is where adults entertain themselves. There is a constant flow of alcohol, pleasurable activities that are conducive to seniors. This is not the views of the committee, we oppose the movement of it but this is the government’s view because this is the new Carmerhogne Park,” he told reporters.

Sen. Roberts stressed that the world-class development that the government speaks about will not tie in well with the location of the park and the ones who will be using it.

“Is this the world class (facility) to get kindergarten boys and girls, who are in Pre-Primary and Primary school? Is this what the government gonna expose children to?

“Grenada has a chronic problem of alcohol, not me saying so, it’s the World Health Organisation – this is what I heard from the Drug Committee in the Ministry of Education, so this is the present that the Prime Minister would want to see for the young people of this nation.

“…This great developer, this billionaire developer (Egypt billionaire), he loves the people of Grenada and that is where he is going to dump the children of Grenada? This is where Camerhogne Park will be, a stone throw from the popular Umbrellas and as you would see for yourself there is no beach front as in Camerhogne Park for the natives.

Sen Roberts stated that the area is not appropriate and the committee would not accept this alternative site as it feared the young people will be influenced by the surroundings.

The Grand Anse Cemetery is the other alternative site for the relocation of Camerhogne Park.

Sen. Roberts said the committee welcomes development in the area but will not stand for the cemetery to be used as any alternative location.

Friend of Save Camerhogne Park Committee, Jude Bernard who also addressed the local media said the acre and a half of land space adjacent to the Coyaba Hotel will not be enough for the facilities that should be provided with a park.

“In terms of sheer land space, it’s very far (and) inferior in terms of the space and when you look in terms of the convenience…their rooms are pretty much over the fence…we look at even the beach, it’s not a beach…it doesn’t really compare”, he said.

“…The facilities that have been promised in terms of the facilities and the other stuff (like) putting a car park, it is just totally inadequate. To me (it) is a very shameful excuse for the word alternative, it is just not fit,” he added.

Also speaking on the proposed location was a representative for the Spice and Craft Centre, Halim Abduwali, who was in agreement with the stand of the committee to shoot down the alternative sites.

He accused the Mitchell-led government of having its development priorities wrong.

“…I say so because most times we hear it echoed that development is coming our way and the developer would give us this and give us that. In so doing what we have been doing is we’ve been giving away our heritage and to me development cannot be development if it does not include people.

“…I think it’s (a) disgrace, it is a shame, it is a betrayal of the trust that the people of Grenada have put into those they have elected to represent us and represent us well so that years after, when we would have passed, generations to come would have remembered the good thing that we have done rather than look back in shame and say those people are crazy..

Abduwali believes that the park has already been sold by the NNP administration to the developer.

“I don’t have any proof based on what is happening. In our tradition, you have what is called oral contracts. So some kind of agreement has been made…it’s a sellout because if you are our custodians at every step of the way, the people must be involved. You can’t just do something like that and inform the people afterward – that is total disrespect, lack of trust and the stewardship of those we have chose to lead us,” he said.

Transfer of inmates to Rehab Centre

Minister of Youth, Sports and Religious Affairs, Emmalin Pierre has said that the Ministry of Youth is not directly involved in the process that is undertaken to transfer an inmate from Her Majesty’s Prison to the Grand Bacolet Rehab Centre.

Speaking at the weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing at the Ministerial Complex on Tuesday, the Minister said while the Centre falls under the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry itself does not have full control over the placement of persons.

According to Minister Pierre, it is the Judiciary that is particularly involved in the process of transfer of offenders from the prison to the centre.

“Movement of persons from Her Majesty’s Prison to anywhere is something that the Ministry cannot manage and of course there are persons by law who can manage and make certain decisions”, she said.

Describing it as a “a process”, the female government minister
warned that “no one can just remove you and put you somewhere else. We are working with the process and we are working with the law.

“…The law obviously will deal with the who can. So for example …. government alone cannot make a decision like that”, she added.

According to Minister Pierre, the Ministry of Legal Affairs is working along with the Ministry of Social Development to ensure that all requirements are followed in regard to placing people at the home.

The rehab centre now houses two residents.

Minister Pierre referred to a specific case in which a young man who was a resident of the Father Maligan home is now serving time at Her Majesty’s Prison.

She said that these cases often come up for discussions at the weekly Cabinet meetings.

“…One of the things that came out very strongly in the discussions is that the capacity of the staff (at the Rehab Centre) would have to be improved and supported to deal with a number of those cases.

“For example, there are some cases you think you just might refer to a Counselor but it might be far more than a Counselor and we are realising that more and more there is need for professional support in dealing with so many of those cases.

Minister Pierre disclosed that Cabinet has taken a decision to offer support to the Ministry of Social Development in whatever way possible to help remedy situations affecting young people.

Government instituted the Bacolet Rehabilitation Centre to provide an alternative to young people who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Change of Directors at GTA

Two new Directors have been appointed to the state-influenced Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) with effect from April 1 as replacement for outgoing Chairman, Richard Strachan and Deputy Chairperson, Shadel Nyack-Compton.

Simon Greene - new Chairman of the Tourism Authority

Simon Greene – new Chairman of the Tourism Authority

The new head of the Board of Directors is Simon Greene while Rodney George takes up the position of new Deputy.

Speaking at the weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing at the Ministerial Complex on Tuesday, Minister of Youth, Sports and Religious Affairs, Emmalin Pierre, said the working tenure of the two Directors expired on December 31st, 2015 but they continued to give service into 2016.

“In the case of the two individuals they would have agreed that they are going to continue until the 31st of March based on the work that they would have started but they have clearly indicated long before taking the appointment that they would only be able to serve for two years and that period would have expired,” she told reporters.

THE NEW TODAY understands that there is division among the Board of Directors with some members not supportive of another contract for the Chief Executive Officer (CEO),  Barbadian Rudy Grant.

When Grant contract expired, he was kept on a month-to-month basis for several months.

This newspaper is not sure whether another contract was offered to him.

Some staff members of GTA have left the body to take up employment with a tourism entity in Dominica, which is trying to make progress in the industry.

As the Minister welcomed the new board members, she thanked the former board for their service.

“We wanna thank Mrs. Nyack Compton for her service and Mr. Strachan for his service and I’m quite sure you would have agreed that they would have made a valuable contribution to the development of the authority over the period of service”, she said.

“…The two persons, Mr. Strachan and Mrs. Compton would have also committed that in any other way that they can provide service based on their schedule and their availability, they remain committed to providing service to this government as it relates to the tourism sector and its development,” she added.

In recent years, tourism has surpassed agriculture as the leading money earner for the island’s economy and employment opportunities for locals.

Challenges facing the Poultry Industry

The local poultry association is clamouring for lower prices to buy feed for their birds.

Strategic Manager of the Grenada Association of Poultry Farmers (GAPF), Joshua Lewis told a radio talk show programme on Tuesday that the cost of feed is very dear to the heart of farmers and need to be much lower.

He lamented the fact that up to seventy percent of the cost for farmers in production is feed, and this is a very sensitive issue that needs to be addressed by the authorities.

Lewis recalled that about 40 years ago, the Government of Grenada under Sir Eric Matthew Gairy entered into an agreement to give concessions to Caribbean Agro Industries to develop the local poultry industry through a hatchery, processing plant, supply of chicks and feed to local farmers, and to repurchase the birds when they are ready.

He said that implementation of the agreement never happened and suggested that the government got into the agreement and seemed to have forgotten it.

“Caribbean Agro, basically has taken advantage of the fact that government comes and goes, (and) public servants are not always on the ball as they should be…”, he said.

“So for over 40 years we’ve had a situation whereby this company has taken all the kind of allowances, all the incentives and all the concessions, and they have not done their part in terms of developing the industry,” he added.

Lewis accused Caribbean Agro of having a much different price structure in place for the cost of feed in Grenada when compared to other countries.

He said on the local market the feed is sold at $42.00 while the price of a bag in St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua is pegged at $32.00 or less by companies operating there.

The Strategic Manager noted that in 2012, the poultry association met with then Prime Minister Tillman Thomas to discuss the plight of the industry and he instructed that feed should be allowed to be imported from Trinidad.

He said this decision was never implemented as the public servants prevented it.

“The public servants do one thing, and the political leaders advice something else,” he quipped.
Lewis felt that if the former Prime Minister’s instructions were adhered to, Caribbean Agro would have been forced to reduce its prices because of competition.

“When you have an industry without competition, you have a situation where essentially companies could do what they want,” he said.

The GPFA member believes that one of the major challenges affecting Grenada is the signing of international agreements without fully considering the implications.

He spoke of Grenada being party to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which should help stimulate growth in the economy, but has not been seeing the evidence of this happening.

Lewis said that countries like the United States and Brazil, where most of the poultry products are produced are manipulating the system to their advantage.

He charged that the domestic poultry industry has not been able to realise its potential.

He pointed out that the more wealth industrialized countries in the north have a policy of subsidising their poultry industry.

He said once there is this distortion in trade, the local farmers cannot compete because “the playing field is not level.”

According to Lewis, the life of a poultry farmer is not an easy one and that it is a challenge.

He pointed an accusing finger at the commercial banks on the island, saying that they are very reluctant to provide financing to the poultry industry.

“They’re worried that if they were to finance the industry because we have no anti-dumping legislation a man could just bring a few containers (of poultry meat) and sell it (at) little or no cost and undermine the local industry,” he told the host of the programme.

Lewis disclosed that Grenada’s import bill for poultry meat currently stands at $62M annually.

“When I think about $62M I think about $62M just flying in the wind out to America. I don’t think the American Farmers or economy really need our money. I think we need our money in terms of the (poultry) industry,” he said.

GAPF has been functioning for over 20 years with a membership of 450 farmers who produce eggs and also meat.

Lewis called for a change in the system to ensure that every stakeholder benefits from the poultry industry.

“You cannot protect the few at the expense of the many. We have 450 (poultry) farmers, probably another 450 workers, and then we have a system whereby we have few importers… but the system has to be realigned or change so all the stakeholders can get a piece of the pie,” he said.

No quick fix in Haiti

SAUNDERSPeace and development will be endangered in Haiti if the United States and other nations insist that the interim government holds the second round of a truncated election for a President of the Republic without a verification process of the first round that took place on October 25 last year.

The Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, who visited Haiti on 13 and 14 April, was right to say that the Haitian authorities should be given time to organise the elections.  The Secretary-General had invited me to accompany him to Haiti since I had led an OAS mission there that oversaw an agreement between the political players that led to the creation of an interim government after the constitutional departure from office of President Michel Martelly on February 6.   Other duties on behalf of my own government caused me not to join Mr Almagro, but had I done so I would have fully endorsed his statement.

Indeed, in an interview with Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald published on April 8, I had argued that verifying the disputed elections is vital to avoiding a deepening political crisis on the island (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article70818937.html#storylink=cpy).

The reason for my conviction is precisely because there is a widespread and overwhelming belief in Haiti that the first round elections were seriously flawed.  Among the over 50 groups with whom my team and I interfaced in Haiti in February, all except Martelly’s Parti Haïtien Têt Kalé (PHTK) party, expressed concern; some stronger than others, but none without misgivings.

Among the groups from the wider international community that observed the October 25 elections was the OAS, and during our exchanges with the Haitian groups we faced continuous claims that the Organisation contributed to foisting the elections flawed results on the Haitian people by declaring them acceptable.  Of course, this allegation was robustly resisted not only because it was absolutely untrue, but also because we knew it had become a convenient political crutch for all the candidates who had performed badly at the polls.  But, resisting an ill-conceived belief does not extinguish it, particularly as other Observer missions declared that the elections were plagued by irregularities.

The admission that, while numerous, the irregularities were not significant enough to materially affect the outcome of the elections, did little to assuage suspicion.  And, the problem is that like a sore that has been allowed to fester for almost 6 months, suspicion of the elections has spread more widely in the Haitian body politic.

The October 25 elections delivered a presidential run-off between Jovenel Moïse of Martelly’s PHTK party after he received 32.76% of the vote and Jude Célestin of the Ligue Alternative Pour le Progrés et l’Emancipation Haïtienne (Lapeh) party, who received 25.29%.  The other 50 candidates shared less than 32%.  That run-off was not completed before Martelly was due to demit office on February 6.

It was that failure to hold the second round of elections amid political confusion and simmering violence that led to the February 5 political Agreement for the establishment of an interim government with a time table for the holding of the run-off elections on April 24 and the installation of an elected President on May 14.

As it turned out, continuing distrust between the political actors within and outside the National Assembly which was charged, under the agreement, with the selection of an interim President and an interim Prime Minister took longer to be settled than was anticipated.  The same distrust continues to haunt the second round of the elections.

The spectre of a flawed first round election hangs ominously over the second. This is why the majority of political players are insisting on verification.   The argument is simple: if the first round was tainted, however strenuous the scrutiny of the second round, the entire process is contaminated.

My concern for any President elected after a second round without verification of the first is that he will not command the respect and authority that validation will bestow. Any President in Haiti who is not widely regarded as legitimately elected with a mandate to govern, will not be able to hold the country together and to give it the leadership it needs for very tough choices that lie ahead.

In such circumstances, the persistent poverty and underdevelopment that has plagued Haiti will deepen and the potential for political conflict and civil strife will intensify.  Consequently, the UN forces in Haiti, that contributing countries are keen to withdraw, will be compelled to remain and the flow of refugees to the US particularly will resurge.

Against this background it is far better to verify the first round elections before proceeding with the second.  I was heartened by a reported statement on behalf of the United States by its Special Coordinator on Haiti, Ambassador Ken Merten, to the effect that if Haiti wants a verification process it should do so quickly.

In arguing that such a process would serve to validate a President who emerges from a second round elections, I had also advocated that a verification committee, drawn from civil society only, should be established swiftly and that the international community should provide it with the money and other resources to complete the verification within the shortest possible time.   Once the verification is complete, the elections for the President can follow quickly.

It has been suggested that one reason for not proceeding with verification of the first round is that such massive fraud might be revealed, requiring the cancellation of the proceedings thus far, and the staging of new elections.  But, if massive fraud is uncovered, is that not good reason for cancelling the October 25 poll and starring afresh?   The alternative would be to join a process of imposing upon Haiti a fraudulently elected government. That could not possibly be right.

In any event, I am satisfied from my knowledge of the OAS elections observation process and the people of high integrity and professionalism that run it, that any scientific verification process by qualified and respected Haitian civil society officials will result, by and large, in the same result.  What the international community should now do is to provide Haiti’s new nine-member provisional electoral council, headed by Léopold Berlanger, with the tools it needs to establish a verification committee and set it to work.

If Jovenel Moïse and Jude Célestin, who emerged from the first round as contenders, have faith in their electability, they should have no fear of verification and of their capacity for one to triumph over the other in a free and fair process.

There can be no “quick fix” in Haiti.  Indeed, it is the urge for quick fixes in the past and the desire to wash hands of the country that has kept it in constant turmoil and retarded its chances for long-term political stability and economic growth.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the US and the OAS.   The views expressed are his own)

Spicemas to be showcased in Trinidad

Spicemas 2016 is scheduled to be launched in Trinidad before the end of the month, according to Minister of Culture, Senator Brenda Hood.

During a recent post-Cabinet press briefing, Sen. Hood disclosed that a team of persons will be traveling to Trinidad for the launch on April 26.

A large number of Trinidadians travel every year to Grenada for its annual Carnival, which climaxes on August 8-9.

The Culture Minister announced the annual Carnival City will belaunched on June 2.

This year the Tanteen Tennis Court will be used for the weekly activity, which serves as build up to carnival.

Carnival City was last held in the yard of nearby Public Workers Union Building.

Sen. Hood said the shift in venue is due to the fact that the activity has expanded and the organisers want to have it take on a different format.

Sen. Hood also made a passionate plea for people to come out in their numbers to support this year’s Panorama event.

She applauded the number of children who are among the panists on panorama night.

“When you engage young people in activities such like those – music, culture in general, they focus well, they are very disciplined, and they are able to do what is necessary.

“So I would like to encourage Grenadians to come out and give their full support to the panists when they have Panorama this year.

Of the three major events leading up to the street parades in August, the Panorama has been the least successful financially for the Spicemas Corporation.

The Culture Minister also praised the move made by the Steel Band Association in hosting monthly pan concerts throughout the island to attract more performs to the artform.

Sen. Hood believes this would have served as an encouragement for people to have a better understanding of the steel band movement.

She also announced that a series of workshop is planned for April and May for stakeholders.

In recent years, there has been a rocky relationship between the Spicemas Corporation and stakeholders who often complain about the scant courtesy and respect shown to panists.

Sen. Hood gave assurances that they will be working to improve that relationship in an effort to achieve a team approach to make things happen.

Gross mismanagement of Grenada Resources

I am calling on the relevant authority to do something about the Social Community group that goes by the name of S.P.E.C.T.O . which operates on the Atlantic Beach at Levera  in the northern part of Grenada.

This area has been the chief nesting site for the Leather Back Turtle which has been coming onto that beach for million of years.

I remembered persons used to go there and indiscriminately kill the huge leatherback turtles, which are hundreds of pounds and only take ten lbs leaving the rest of this huge creature there to perish.

This practice continued for years  until there was greater awareness of the species being depleted thus making it endangered specie.

This gave rise to the international conversation group Ocean Spirit from the UK coming to Grenada and  starting to give serious conservation and protection to these wonderful creatures.

This was done voluntarily and soon started to attract volunteers from all over the world.

These folks went out into the elements all night taking statistical data, measuring, as well as transferring the eggs to unmarked sports so that poachers will not find them.

At the time, there were over five tour companies that constantly took hotels guest to this site during the nesting season which starts officially on April 1st and runs until the end of June beginning of July.

These tour companies would have paid fees to the Ocean Spirit group, which would have helped them to purchased T-Shirts and other accessories that they would have needed.

They operated as a truly non-profit organisation until a few years ago when a few persons from that community decided to form themselves into a group calling themselves S.P.E.C.T.O.

The people involved in this new group consulted with some of the politicians thus giving them some strength and  impetus.

However, they started to conduct tours as a community group by providing tour guides to explain the turtles and this started to antagonize the original conservation group named Ocean Spirit based on certain practices.

SPECTO started to charge the tour operators a ridiculous fee of 20.00 USD per person once they came from the hotels. Remember, the guests had to travel over twenty-seven miles to get to the Levera beach at night.

So too the local population – they were not spared the rod. Could you imagine how intoxicated this group became by the money they were charging.

This group did not even have mercy on our Grenadian students who were going to do research for their SBA Social Base Assessment for their own educational advancement for CXC programmes.

Other Grenadians and our own people from the Diaspora were turned away from the beach due to the high cost for them as Grenadians to see the turtles.

This group became very fanatical because they were told by one of the unrealistic  technocrats within the Ministry of Fisheries – driven by environmental laws –  to don’t give permission to anyone to visit that beach, thus ignoring Grenadians constitutional, and democratic rights.

A lot of Grenadians have been complaining about the problem and the kind of attitude of that group and in particular a specific family who heads this group.

The group has been trying to justify its action by saying that they are involved in community activities. I am in no way trying to say that this  group is not in fact involved in community work.

But it is disproportionately small and inequitable  compared with the volume of monies made by that group from the turtle funds within the four plus months of the turtle-watching season.

I am calling on government to intervene and don’t continue to allowthis group to collect government funds under the pretext of being a community group  which claims that it s giving back to the community.

A ticket system should have been issued just like the Parks and Waterfalls as part of the Grenada tourism product by Fisheries.

In my opinion, these funds are grossly mismanaged at a time when the country does not have money.

This group has even gone so far by isolating the most knowledgeable person who had done foreign training, Dora Hypolite.

What I want to say is that much more can be done for the benefit of the people of St Patrick’s from funds collected by this group.

Remember, St. Patrick is the parish that has been pronounced as the poorest of all the parishes in Grenada. It is time Grenada stop those clandestine  operations with the country’s resources.

There is very high tension between SPECTO and the original group, Ocean Spirit who is concerned about the conservation of these endangered turtles. SPECTO is more concerned about the money.

Up till now, SPECTO cannot even erect a little shed for when it’s raining at nighttime for people to get a shelter. What about investing in some rain cats? Who is fooling whom?

Kennedy Jawahir

No fire truck in St. Patrick

Statement issued by the Deputy Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress and Caretaker for St. Patrick West, Joseph Andall on the recent fires in the parish:

As caretaker of the National Democratic Congress for the St. Patrick’s West constituency, I am concerned about the recent spate of fires in the parish but more so, the lack of a Fire Engine.

According to the reports in the last few weeks, three business places have been destroyed by fire in the area of Mt. Rich, River Sallee and Rose Hill, in each case, the Sauteurs fire station was unable to respond.

This resulted in the need for outside assistance from Gouyave and Grenville in order to control the spreading fires.

While in these situations, team work from neighbouring constituencies should be encouraged, the problem is that the added time and distance it takes for a fire truck to arrive at the location of a fire, it will already be largely out of control

This, considering the fact that we are in an excessive dry season is unacceptable and I therefore recommend that immediate steps be taken to:

(1). Ensure that there is at least one fire truck in the parish of St. Patrick.

(2). That regular checks and maintenance be performed on all fire hydrants in the parish

(3). That all parishioners continue to conserve water in this intense dry season

I further call on all members responsible to take more and the necessary actions in minimising any chance for a re-occurrence of this situation in future as it can pose a serious threat to Life, Business Properties, the Community and Country on a whole.