Peaceful solution on the horizon

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Police officers occupying the Barbuda Fisheries Complex are expected to be out today and take up residence at a new location on the sister island.
OBSERVER media received reports that on Wednesday, armed police officers from Antigua had arrived on the sister island and became embroiled in an impasse with residents who had encircled the Fisheries Complex, chanting “we shall overcome”.
There had been tension between the residents and police since last week over the use of the complex.
Leader of the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM), and member of parliament (MP) for Barbuda Trevor Walker who accused the Gaston Browne led administration of bullying, said that he was relieved that the matter was resolved amicably.
 “If there’s one thing they should have learned, is that Barbudans are resilient and we are not going to give up our rights. In the future, this government must do things differently, the intimidation tactics will never work in Barbuda. So, I hope that going forward, a different strategy is adopted,” Walker said.
He said that it was decided at a two-hour meeting between the Barbuda Council and Cheryl Appleton, the chief fisheries officer, that, the keys to the fisheries complex would remain in the council’s possession.
“We [Barbuda Council] will remain in control of the facility, and we gave an undertaking to work with Mrs. Appleton because, we have to. It is incumbent upon us, if we want to maintain access to the EU market and our standardised facility be approved.”
The MP further stated that, “we have also given her the commitment to cooperate in whatever avenue is necessary for us to have a good working relationship and she has pledged to do the same. The last thing I wanted {yesterday], was for the whole thing to degenerate to the point where it became chaotic.”
According to Walker, the police should have vacated the fisheries complex since Tuesday, but the place that was identified for them to operate was not equipped with electricity.
He, however, added that the Antigua Public Utilities Authority, (APUA) had given the assurance that this matter would have been resolved by by Wednesday, yesterday.
According to him, it was agreed that the officers would continue to occupy the complex in the meantime.
“We have gotten the commitment from APUA and as soon as this is done they will be ready to move. We have no problem waiting until that’s done. We want to let the world know that it’s not that we are pushing them out with no place to go. We have assisted them with identifying the accommodation just so that we can have law enforcement and Barbudans comfortable,” he explained.
On Sunday, scores of Barbudans were engaged in a five-hour standoff with the police over access to the Fisheries Complex which they said is needed to facilitate fishermen during the Lobster Season which officially started on July 1.
Earlier this week, Walker said that without access to the complex, “lobster cannot be shipped to the EU market and it would be a huge blow for us. It is an $8 million industry.”
The Complex has been serving as accommodation for police officers in Barbuda since September last year, as the rebuilding of the hurricane-ravaged island continues.
When OBSERVER media contacted Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Barbuda Affairs, Dean Jonas, he indicated that he was at Cabinet meeting, and Appleton could not be reached for comment.

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