A town hall meeting geared at finding ways to ease the burdens for Carriacou businessmen and women due to the move of the port from Hillsborough to Harvey Vale was held at the conference room of the Mermaid Hotel on Saturday.
The meeting organised by Tevin Andrews of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) was held in response to a call made by Carriacou businessmen and residents who are most inconvenienced by the move of the island’s main port from the central Hillsborough town to Harvey Vale in the south of the island.
Andrews told THE NEW TODAY last week Friday that “a marine engineer was also invited to make recommendations on what can be done to enhance the Hillsborough jetty,” which officially stopped operating on November 2.
Andrews, who is the NDC caretaker of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, said the ideas and recommendations coming out of the meeting will be presented to the Minister for Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs, Kindra Mathurine-Stewart and the Grenada Ports Authority (GPA) for their consideration.
The young politician charged that “not enough consultation was done” prior to the construction of the Harvey Vale Port.
“A feasibility study should have been conducted to find out how the move would affect the micro and macro economy,” he said, recalling that “only two consultations were held (with members of the public) basically to tell people that we are moving down to Harvey Vale.”
Noting that the move has been affecting the businesses in many ways, Andrews pointed out that “people are not against the port moving to Harvey Vale, people are opposed to all services moving to Harvey Vale.”
According to Andrews, some residents on the small island are complaining that “the price for a taxi is very unstable and are calling for a clear price range for transportation”, while the taxi-men are aggrieved that they now have to “compete with bus men for passengers,” as there is no taxi-stand at Harvey Vale as was the case in Hillsborough.
He also said that small hoteliers in Hillsborough are complaining that business “has been moving along very slow since the moving of the port” and these are just some among the many issues now being faced by Carriacou businessmen and women.
One Carriacou Businessman, Kimberlain Mills, is in strong opposition to the move of the port and has voiced concerns on behalf of consumers whose pockets do not allow for the additional burden placed on them.
“They (the authorities) closed the port in Hillsborough, nobody could use it. There is another jetty in Harvey Vale that is being used currently, nothing is wrong with it but they gonna close that too. So, they (are) closing the two ports and forcing each and everybody to use the new facility and I don’t think it’s fair, Mills said in a recent interview with “Concepcion,” an upcoming magazine celebrating Grenada’s 45th year of political Independence.
“So, now we have this extra burden put on these people and it’s not fair. Now what I find very strange here in Carriacou and it’s because of partisanship, is that a lot of business people are not saying anything”, he remarked.
“There is politics involved here…if you see something is happening, feel free to talk about it and criticise it (but) people don’t see constructive criticism (because) the minute you criticise here, (the general perception is that) you are against and they take your colour from yellow and they put it to green, or from Green to yellow,” he said.
Mills stated that the businessmen are not speaking out on the issue because they know that the additional burden will be passed onto the consumers.
“I believe the businessmen are not speaking out because they know…I am a businessman and I know for a fact that the burden is passed on to the consumers and I am worried about the consumer who cannot afford to have this extra burden placed on them. I am not making noise and talking about it for me. I am talking about it for the people who cannot afford it,” he said.