There is an air of quiet by the authorities in Grenada on another controversy involving the so-called prized project of the ruling New National Party (NNP) government – the multi-million-dollar Silver Sands resort of Egyptian business magnate, Naguib Sawiris.
A serious complaint has been made against the resort by the owner and operator of a private school in the area over the construction of a gas pipeline within touching distance of her property.
As far as THE NEW TODAY is concerned this is cause for major concern and the relevant departments of government should be giving top priority to this matter of a gas pipeline being laid in close proximity to a school that houses close to 100 children between the ages of three months to five years.
Where is the voice of the Minister of Education, Emmalin Pierre who often likes to boast about her love for everybody especially the children of the nation? Where is Senators Simon Stiell and Pastor Winston Garraway – the two-line ministers that are the face of this administration on matters of The Environment and Disasters?
This issue of a gas pipeline being laid close to a school should also attract the attention of MP For St. George South-East, Gregory Bowen in his capacity as Line Minister for the Physical Planning Unit (PPU) – the department that had to give permission for construction of the gas pipeline at Silver Sands?
It goes without saying that the buck stops at the front door of the Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell since he is the head of the Cabinet of Ministers which is responsible for taking all the decisions that affect the daily lives of the people of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
The Silver Sands has been in the construction phase for over three years and the architects would have known at the onset that a gas pipeline had to be installed on the property.
The PPU must have been aware for a very long time now that the gas pipeline would have had to be laid close to the school and can pose a possible danger to the children.
However, no one should take the Fabian Purcell-led department as a serious stakeholder as its own line minister has hinted in the past about corrupt activities and practices from within the unit.
The PPU is nothing but a rubber stamp for government directives and no one should expect anyone in the department to resist whatever perceived wrong is taking place at the only major showpiece project of the current regime in the past 20 years in the tourism industry.
Mr. Purcell has been heard in the past giving out information from his department to media houses but when he was approached and questioned about the pipeline at Silver Sands he ducked, ran away and hide under the pretext of having to get permission from his superiors.
Mr. Purcell, please go and get the necessary permission and come back out and inform the nation about PPU’s involvement in giving permission to the developers of the hotel to construct the gas pipeline in close proximity to the school.
This newspaper is also warning the nation to be weary and careful of anything that is said about the gas pipeline by one Nigel Renwick, the Project Manager of TVA Consultants – the group that is spearheading the architectural work at the Silver Sands.
THE NEW TODAY has a tape-recording of a conversation between Mr. Renwick and the owner/operator of the school, Michele Gilbert.
The TVA boss was later contacted by a news reporter from this newspaper and it is quite appalling the manner in which this so-called respectable individual was being so untruthful about the happening with the gas pipeline. Shame on Mr. Renwick.
This gentleman was denying that he had any knowledge about the construction of a gas pipeline on the property but minutes before was trying to sow seeds of fear in the owner of the school that if she went public to the media with the issue that it can only result in one thing – ruining her school.
Mr. Renwick’s behaviour has forced us to question many of the other things that he might have said over the years about the construction of the Silver Sands project. He simple cannot be trusted where truth is concern.
It is the view of THE NEW TODAY that the Mitchell-led government has a responsibility to protect all the nation’s school children from any potential and possible dangers – whether natural or manmade.
The powers-that-be have to find a solution to the fears and anxiety of the property owner and that of the parents who send their children to the private school in the area.
The Silver Sands is a reality and cannot be stopped. The school should be relocated from the area and it is incumbent upon the Mitchell government to use its influence to get the developers/owners of the hotel to help with the resettlement including an adequate compensation package.
There is hardly a country in the world that would expose its flowers of the nation to the inherent dangers from a gas pipeline running alongside a school.
At the very onset, the Silver Sands project was dogged by great controversy over the question of whether a proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study was done and by whom on the project and its implications for the world famous Grand Anse beach.
Today, we have come 360 degrees around with persons now wondering what inherent dangers lie from a possible explosion from a gas pipeline constructed so near the road for the other property owners in the area and the negative reports that can affect tourism in and around our most popular and important beach in the country.
It is time for action from government on this gas pipeline issue in and around our school children.