Chastanet: Pierre’s HIA Project Remarks ‘Irresponsible Reckless And Completely False’

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Opposition leader Allen Chastanet has written an open letter to Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre regarding statements about the Hewanorra International Airport (HIA) redevelopment project.

In the letter, reproduced below, the United Workers Party (UWP) leader described Pierre’s remarks as irresponsible, reckless and completely false.

Dear Prime Minister,
I reference your statements, on August 23rd 2022, at a town hall meeting in Vieux Fort regarding the Hewanorra Airport Redevelopment Project. First, let me state that the HIA project is among the most crucial to the development and future of our country and forms an integral part of our island’s medium term development strategy, not just because of its far-reaching contribution in terms of creating employment in the south and island-wide, but in terms of building a solid foundation for our country’s future growth; specifically, the projected advancement of our tourism industry.
The statements you made, Mr. Prime Minister, have caused me to further question whether you recognize and acknowledge the importance of this project and the sensitivity and honesty with which it must be handled. Your statements were irresponsible, reckless and completely false.
They have the potential to cause damage to our country on numerous fronts. I was not completely surprised by your misleading statements considering you had previously indicated your lack of understanding for how important tourism was and that you did not know an airport could be higher than a ground floor, despite traveling to other airports around the world.
However, your statements were so defamatory that I am unable to sit back while you jeopardize and undermine the credibility of the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA), the reputable international agencies, international and regional financial institutions and other local agencies involved in the HIA project.
In your bid to make everything about “Allen Chastanet” and play petty childish politics, you have completely lost sight of the Saint Lucia’s reputation and the impact of this project on the country and the people.
It is common knowledge, Mr. Prime Minister, that you and I hold altogether different views on the Hewanorra International Airport Redevelopment Project. The SLP was the proponent of a PPP arrangement with the IFC which would see our country enter a 30-year agreement, with a foreign entity collecting 60 dollars per traveler, regardless of the fluctuations in the number of passengers.
The original plan was to the build the airport terminal in the car park behind the existing terminal, a small space, requiring 300 piles. There were many issues with this move: the
money the people of Saint Lucia would forfeit and the lack of room for expansion.
Our UWP Government took a more ambitious approach. Keeping in mind the trajectory of arrivals to Saint Lucia, we negotiated and secured a loan with the Taiwanese Government and approved the expansion of the plans into an area which would take into account climate change and future growth prospects.
It must be noted that at the time of the original design, the arrival numbers to Saint Lucia were around 270, 000 and airlift was limited; with flights, especially American Airlines coming into George Charles Airport.
The American Eagle flights to George Charles were suspended after a time and when we came into office in 2016, we soon saw growth in tourism and increased arrivals at HIA; hitting almost half a million visitors in one year.
Keeping to the original plan would have been myopic as a new terminal in the small location would have been chaotic and caused major congestion. We also had to factor in the plans for increased economic activity in Vieux Fort: the homeporting, the racetrack, the call centers, the hotel developments.
Recognizing all of those reasons, instead of demolishing the old building that the original plan called for, the decision was taken to keep the existing terminal and retrofit it for cruise passengers and charter flights.
Again, given our ambitious plans for Vieux Fort and the number of new hotel developments planned for the entire island, we would need a larger airport terminal. Appreciating that the land around the airport was quite valuable, the decision was taken to go to a two-story building to maximize space.
These are the critical reasons, Prime Minister, the airport terminal was moved and there was the need for increased piling in the new location. On top of the loan we secured with Taiwanese, under our model, the World Bank would in part be responsible for flood mitigation works at the new airport location.
You falsely and conveniently stated, Mr. Prime Minister, that I personally chose the new location for the airport, when you know full well, the logic of moving the location was supported by evidence and undertaken by professionals.
To suggest that the cost of piling at the new location in comparison to the old location constitutes cost overruns, is at the very least irrational or deliberately misleading. The fact is the piling at the new airport location came in exactly on budget. There are no cost overruns.
Let’s talk about cost overruns. Prime Minister, you, of all people, would understand the meaning of cost overruns, since the term was made famous when you claimed to have served as “deputy” Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, in the Kenny Anthony administration. For the egregious examples of “cost overruns” you need only revisit countless reports during your previous tenures. For one, the now infamous West Coast road project!
You also stated that the project was not tendered. This is yet another self-serving outright fabrication. The main contractor was OECC, a Taiwan company that built the St Vincent
terminal and have built billions of dollars of roads, airport and seaports. OECC was awarded the contract because concessional financing came from the EXIM Bank of Taiwan. In turn, OECC tendered the piling contract and the main structure; as would all other components of HIA.
To further strengthen governance and transparency there were three project overseers: OECC, a special Project Unit at SLASPA and Herry International. Upon taking office, your Government was presented with a well-planned project, with all the financing left in place. For reasons only you can explain, you appear to have aborted this plan.
The financing is available, the team is in place and your continued procrastination does not serve the interests of our country. We established the Airport Development Charge for the purpose of funding this project at $35 dollars for 20 years, far less that the $60 for 30 years the original plan would have cost our country. Both you and your Tourism Minister, have been touting arrival figures to the island, yet you continue to delay on the airport construction.
Mr. Prime Minister, I implore you to reflect on your statements and the embarrassment it causes to SLASPA and to our Saint Lucian institutions. I understand, Prime Minister, that you may have already developed a level of mistrust for your current Minister for Infrastructure, however, in support of our approach to the Airport redevelopment, in 2018 he is on the record as having said: “The whole intention is to build a facility that can carry the capacity of visitors to our country. The next step that we are moving forward to is secure an ideal location in the south where a home port will be developed to now see Vieux Fort as a home port rivalling Barbados that will bring even greater economic activity to the people of this country. This can only come from a government who cares, this can only come from a government who has initiative, this can only come from a government with vision.” End quote.
Speaking about the UWP Government’s approach to the airport, your Minister for Infrastructure went further and stated: “I believe that the time has come for us to agree that the people of Saint Lucia, not only need an airport but the people of Saint Lucia need a facility that will generate even more economic activity through the services that airport will offer. The people who will benefit most will be the people in the south, people from Vieux Fort North, Vieux Fort South, Laborie, Choiseul and surrounding areas. As we say, this the airport in itself, and the other facilities of the cruise port, the home porting and all the activity that will come in there with DSH etcetera, will call for other amenities to be set up.” End quote.
Prime Minister, I advise you to sit with your technocrats, get a full grasp of the intricacies of this project. They have been working at this for several years and have the skills necessary to guide you.
If you neglect to do this, I am concerned that your continued politicization of this issue, baseless statements, indecisiveness and conflicting information will jeopardize the hard work that has been done on Saint Lucia’s behalf.
Yours sincerely,
ALLEN CHASTANET
Leader of the Opposition
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35 COMMENTS

  1. Where did you get your information from, please quote your source. As you and everyone else know PPPs are done when governments can’t do better and they are not over 20 years. The nonsense this government want to do to give the partner 30 years, plus 70% of our airport taxes is absurd.

  2. It is indeed sad to see that a project which many technocrats and professionals spent time on (over 9 Years) has become a political football.
    The present site for the airport terminal is indeed the best site and was a decision taken by experts in the field of Civil Aviation and which the policy makers accepted.
    Let’s hope good sense prevails and the works at the existing site is continued.
    If not, then all the work I was involved in would have come to naught.

    • …….you are missing the POINT EVERBODY AGREE we need a new airport, no one is arguing about that, we all on that page. The argument is the NEPOTISM and OVER EXPEDITURES, CORUPTIVE NATURE that is in question, along with the EXCESSIVE BURDENSOME that is placed on the backs of the working poor of this nation WITHOUT ANY KIND OF GUILT OR RESERVATION FOR BRAGGING RIGHTS. If St Lucians could have gotten a first class airport by lease where we would collect all departure fees and 60 percent landing fees, the leaser is bonded contractually to, maintain, upgrade, and facilitate the daily running of the airport and the government walk away smelling like rose, I would like anyone to DARE tell me what’s wrong with that or why go the Allen Chastanet Route by borrowing USD$ 100 million Dollars from Taiwan, place it on the backs of the working poor, with an interest payment only of USD$ 5 Million Dollars every six month, with the first PRINCIPLE PAYMENT in the year 2036. If anyone tells me this is fine, then they don’t know dollars and cents and is broke like hell.

  3. It was a ROTTEN DEAL FROM THE START ! The foreign press said so, and certain teefing politician had their wings clip by the US due to THE ROT behind this deal. It start out bad so it was destined to end up bad. Thank you Mr. Pierre, may God bless you and your quest in gutting THE ROT. Well thinking St Lucians are behind you.

  4. My Son (s)pay attention to what I say ; listen Closely to my words.
    Do not let them out of sign, keep them within your ❤️ heart, for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.
    For those commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light,and correction of discipline are the way to life.

  5. Why say one is lying and the other is not. They both are. When uwp is in power Slp finds everything they do a problem. Give them a chance they repeat everything they found that was wrong with uwp and more. It is high time both parties stop the practice of when they get in office to stop project that have started by the former government even though they know it’s a good project. Both parties does it and frankly I am tired of both parties. They have used us as punching bags to much. They are selfish and only there for their pockets and their friends pockets. Who are we. Do you think they care about the old lady in her home who does not work not on welfare who cannot visit the doctor because she cannot afford. It is we the neighbors who care enough to come together to help. Stlucians politicians don’t care about us. They only care when they want our vote and will do anything even to the extend of caring the sick to go and vote. Do you believe that there is not a higher power who silently pain over these things. Our days are numbered for there is a time and a season for everything under the heavens above.let us form a party with god fearing people. I am not saying with sinless or perfect people because we cannot find any of these. I am saying god fearing people people that will think of god first before anyone or anything. People who believe has experience what god can do and how mighty he is. If we cannot get a party with these ppl then for the love of god stay home and do not go and vote because it does not matter which party among the two that is there the same thing will happen. Let us love god enough to stay home and leave it in his hands to govern our beloved st Lucia. People we only need god and prayer now with what is happening now in this world and not only in stlucia. Develope a personal relationship with god and let him have his way. Let us die for the lord instead and not for politician. Peace and love

  6. Yes people continue to support our pm, look at the damage we got in just one year.
    Gas prices have gone down globally along with good but continue to believe his lies.
    Can’t wAit to hear the excuses next year “not his fault” “we have to fend for ourselves” lol

    • …what damage ??? USD$100 Million Loan from the Bank of Taiwan when we could have gotten this airport for next to nothing by leasing with upgrade and collecting our landing and departure fees…….I fail to understand the not so good sense in that EDUCATE ME PLEASE ??

      • You are red all over so your judgement is clouded. In what part of the universe would you get an airport for next to nothing. Some jackasses are so party enshrined that they don’t know their own mother

  7. People need to chill!!! Talk is alway cheap. Especially coming from those who have been know to make statements they know are either untrue or partially true. My truth is twofold…….one is the realization that there is a supreme being and for everything else give me DATA. One can talk as loud and use the avenues available to them to preach what they consider to be their truths. But I need info/data to validate their truth

  8. Pip etc Ti Chas…Mwen jha Lass zort deux.

    Lass bat saqway chou zort, travaille uh sum, et faire sah zort ni pou faire uh payee Lah!

  9. I am at loss to understand what is it that the PM said about the HIA project at the Vieux Fort Town hall meeting, that he has not said and repeated in the house.

    It is clear that Chastnet choose to represent the people outside of the house with glorious letters short of presenting the facts.

    Mr Chastnet please present figures,documents etc. defend your name and admin. in the house where it matters, providing you are telling the truth.

    It stand to prove that the adjustment of arrival figures by some 75% upwards would have best suited the PPP model.

  10. It is sad how that SLP government would spread lies and stop all development in this country. They spread hate their best qualities we will always be backwards. Pjp suh honte

    • So you conveniently forgot what Guy J did to ALL ongoing projects being undertaken by the SLP in 2016…St Jude’s for example, firing everybody onsite ? You know what is sad– when people like Gwensal have selective amnesia and politicians take advantage of it by filling their brains with crap. Countries nowadays try to avoid loans for major port projects that have a solid revenue stream- the better option is to undertake some PPP, paying attention to the long term charges on users. Investors in a PPP normally have better abilities to manage those facilities ( restaurants, gift shops, security, equipment etc) – that is the reason that a PPP may be better! Sadly alot of lucians and even politicians like Chas eh go understand these things.

      • i dont know about the other projects but for the saint jude hospital everybody on that worksite deserved to be fired. cause when UWP came into power they did an assessment of that hospital and it was a mess. i am sure you can remember they came on the news when they did the walk around inspection and the people in charge saw so many cut corners and poor standards not up to world health and safety standards for example if a door or a window in a special room was to be a required size the contractor went and put what he want. now tell me if you think this is fair cause alot of people donated their own moneys to see this project completed and is bare papishow that was done. if these guys had done the right thing from the start that hospital would have been finished or if not nearly done by now if they did not have to mash up the nasty work the former contractors did. that hospital will still not e completed for the next elections. you ever saw the interview with dale elliot and kenny anthony about that hospital on untold stories if not go look at it you can see from the way kenny was answering that he was hiding something cause he knew the questions dale was asking him he would reveal certain things he didnt want to say

  11. Its Time St.Lucians stop Listening To Shit talk From St.Lucian Politricktians.There are Plenty of Very poor persons Who went to the polls on Election day and I am Sure a percentage of them This Morning don’t have a Dime to purchase items for their kids and also purchase School books

  12. I feel sorry for fair Helen for it looks like she is doomed. In the past, I took pleasure in voting out governments after five years in office without thinking of the consequences. But this situation with HIA and the St. Jude reconstruction project clearly has me thinking. I have concluded that it is not in the country’s interest to vote out a government after one term in office. This practice puts back the development of the country by several years.

    The Labour government sees fault in every project started by the UWP and has made attempts to stop them all for solely political reasons and without thinking of the cost to the country and by extension, our children and grandchildren whose duty it would be to repay this huge debt, carelessly and callously incurred by selfish and brainless politicians. What is wrong with continuing the HIA airport, what is wrong with continuing the St. Jude hospital since the both will benefit the country. But no! – another political party will take the credit. I was taught that government is a continuity or should be, but in our case, government is purely party based. It looks like this country is doomed, led by clueless leaders, being ran over by criminals, secured by a dysfunctional police force with no end in sight. It’s not about party politics anymore, we all should be concerned about the future of fair Helen for she is surely sinking. So painful to watch her slip away. I am not a Chastenet supporter but I support him
    on that issue. And while still at it, a friend reminded me that the SLP has opposed all developmental projects in St. Lucia -the Rodney Bay Marina, the joining of Pigeon to the mainland, the millennium highway and the Roseau dam just to name a few. And even independence, imagine that. It is time the SLP stop being the party in eternal opposition and Govern!!!! Stop wasting our limited resources, stop being myopic.

    • having lived and worked in several Caribbean countries ….I REGRETED THE TIME I LIVED IN T. LUCIA . Apart from being royal waste of time …it was the worst time of my life due to politricks , dishonest politicians , partisan civil servants and an illiterate populations that is happy in their ignorance .

      • Stay away we do not need people like you around. This is not only a St. Lucia problem. Just for your records our ignorance has enable us to have two Nobel laureates. What say you and your so call righteous place of birth

  13. Mr. Chastanet St Lucians will not believe what you have said there, because every St Lucian takes you for a professional Liar. We are sorry about that. I am going on one of the 23 islands you built by El Pirata.

    • oye shut up there garcon, so just so the fella going to waste his time and sit down and write a whole story which you think is lies when the guy was prime minister and was at the fore front of seeing all these projects. Piere has no forward thinking vision when it comes to tourism, At least something was happening for tourism to expand, but what do these fools do? a stupid expo to dubai and i am positive we never got no increased arrivals from that place where all these people are full of oil money, right now the tourist season is slow you not seeing not one cruise ship coming in this slow/closed season at point seraphine go and ask any taxi driver when last they made a dollar from a cruise ship in this season. When UWP was in power there would have at least one or two cruise ships in the slow season but now there is NOTHING NADA ZERO. if you know much better then you should join a party run for elections and let us see what you can “better do”

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