As the pre-election atmosphere heats up, the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has raised issue with the state of the jetty on the Grand Anse Beach with the 2017 Cruise Ship Season due to start in October.
Caretaker for NDC in the St. George South constituency, Ray Roberts has again expressed concerns that the dilapidated jetty, which is used by many tourists can become a safety hazard for users.
Speaking to reporters, Roberts who resigned from the Senate as Labour representative a month ago to get involved in frontline politics with Congress, said that the state of the jetty can leave a damaging effect on the “Pure Grenada” image and brand as promoted by the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA).
He stated that the jetty started to show signs of dilapidation more than six months ago.
The Member of Parliament for the constituency is former Tourism Minister, Alexandra Otway-Noel who resigned as a member of the government about a year ago.
The ruling New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has selected Health Minister Nickolas Steele as the new Caretaker candidate for the constituency.
Roberts accused Otway-Noel of failing in her duties as MP for the South to address the jetty issue on the world famous Grand Anse beach.
“I have never seen Grand Anse Beach in this despicable state as I am seeing it here today. I want to also draw your attention to the fact that our Parliamentary Representative (Otway-Noel) she’s credited for our Pure Grenada initiative, creating the name Pure Grenada. Now when you look at this (jetty), … this problem here is more than six months old, you have to question the sort of representation the people of the south and particularly the vendors who make a living from using this facility,” he said.
Roberts also charged that about 20 metres from the dilapidated jetty, the new NNP Caretaker for the south, Health Minister Steele owns a beach front property near to the jetty.
The NDC Caretaker questioned Steele’s own commitment to the Pure Grenada image.
“The question must be asked, what sort of commitment and even pride the gentleman (Minister Steele) has in Pure Grenada because the Jetty over the years has always had problems…”, he said.
He also said: “…I have spoken to Sen. Simon Stiell (Leader of Government Businerss), I have emailed other government ministers because I am here (on Grand Anse beach) minimum three times a week using that facility, the President of the Senate is there too and over the last six months nothing has been done (to repair the jetty.
“If you go there, you would see some rope tie up the Jetty and what is happening now the rope is rotting as a result of, I suppose the sea salt and what have you and the Jetty is dismantled,” he added.
The NDC Caretaker for the South expressed fears that the country could face a massive lawsuit if a tourist is damaged while using the jetty.
“Speaking to some of the tour operators, I am told as much as about 40, 50% of cruise ship passengers used this facility to come to Grand Anse and to support the vendors market and all the people who do business around here, including the restaurant (Coconut Beach) that we close to. So we are talking about the livelihood of people.
“…Imagine a tourist or anybody is injured here…imagine what will happen to Grenada. You’re suing the government through the Grenada Board of Tourism and you’re suing perhaps the Tour Operators and that is not going to be chicken feed – that’s going to be millions but even worse the image of the country shall be permanently finished.
The former Labour Senator called on the Keith Mitchell-led government to undertake some kind of an initiative needs to repair the jetty
“The government is cash-strapped and I am aware of that, they can’t do everything. I am sure … if Sir Eric Matthew Gairy was the Prime Minister of this country, he would have taken money from his pocket, pay a work man $500, $1000 …call Ramdhanny or call Jonas Browne and Hubbards get some pieces of wood and repair this (jetty)”, he said.
Roberts accused the Mitchell administration of demonstrating “absolutely no pride in Pure Grenada”.
The NDC Caretaker charged that if he is given the go ahead by the Tourism Authority which is responsible for beach that he will undertake some repairs to the jetty.
“If I get the blessings of the Board of Tourism, I will mobilise some people in the village, ask the lumber companies operating in the south for a couple pieces of necessary material and do a refurbishment”, he remarked.
“I know it (will) not be permanent because you need greater construction minds to do it (but) basically what I am talking about is a temporary fix, make it look good …”, he said.