He said it with a barely disguised hint of triumph in his voice. It was as if to say that, at last, at long last, I am offering a promise upon which the disillusioned people of Antigua and Barbuda can stand. He uttered the million-dollar figures with his characteristic emphasis – one-hundred-million-EC-dollars. One-billion-dollars, blah, blah, blah. He of a High Place was announcing that after the vain promises of wonderful things to happen at Half Moon Bay, he’d found an investor from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who was going to invest millions into a luxury resort at that beach. And yes, another wonderful investor was going to invest millions upon millions in another luxury resort in Barbuda. Whatever! These wonderful pronouncements are like a broken record, we have heard them all before, and sadly, they have NEVER amount to much more than a hill of beans.
But just in case there are some folks who may have forgotten the vast extent of this government’s piteous failure to deliver on its promises from 2014 to 2022, here’s a gentle reminder. There’s the Sunny Hill Project, a resort in the Falmouth/Bethesda area; the Beaches Resort by Sandals; the Rosewood Half Moon Bay Hotel, which was supposed to be opened in 2021; the Morris Bay/Callaloo Cay Project; the Hotel Resort on Pelican Island, and residences on Maiden Island; the Labahia Hotel resort and condominiums in Marble Hill; the WIOC Business Hotel; the WIOC Long Bay Hotel Resort; the Calvin Ayre Wellness Resort; the Amazon Call Center at Five Islands; the Marriott Autograph Hotel at Yeptons; the Beach Club at Fort James by Royal Caribbean Cruise; the Port Oasis project at Side Hill; the Best Western Hotel at Jolly Harbour; the Marriott Courtyard Airport Hotel; the Cedar Valley Golf Course Hotel; the Mike Tyson Hotel; the Bau Panel (UNOPS) project; the YIDA project; the Willoughby Bay (new city) project; the Western Imperial Special Economic Zone project; the Brova Idea Pearl (partly underwater) Hotel; the US$300 million hotel by investors from Holland; the Paradise Found project in Barbuda; the Armand Hotel in Barbuda, and so on and so forth. All dismal non-starters.
Meanwhile, as if that were not enough, we have a number of fanciful projects right here in the city of St John’s that have also come to naught. The most glaring and disheartening is the callous way in which those in high places promised to spruce-up St John’s for Carnival 2023, and then did absolutely NOTHING. The once-beautiful city of St John’s is just as dilapidated and decrepit as it ever was. Navigating the streets and sidewalks of St Johns is a nightmare that we all live daily – just ask the reveler whose calf was gashed by a broken manhole. We all have experienced, or know of someone who experienced a similar slip or fall. Of course, we are not even bothering to mention the earlier grandiose pledge to completely renovate and rehabilitate St Johns. Never mind the photo-op walk-through by ranking officials and Ministers from three ministries, we all know that that will never happen. Not under this feckless Administration.
And there is more failure. This Administration promised to finish the Anchorage Road project by the end of August. Today is the seventh, and the work there is still incomplete. The Sunshine Hub car park is still an empty hulk, as is the unfinished rehabilitation of the Court on High Street. Deadlines were given as to when those would be completed, and the fanciful deadlines have come and gone. Deadlines have also been given for the completion of rehabilitation work on any number of police stations and clinics around our fair State, and not one of those deadlines have ever been met. These clinics and police stations are all languishing. And the people suffer.
And don’t talk about our interminable water problem. Those in high places have provided much grandiose chatter about the wonderful addition of so many more millions of gallons of water, blah, blah, blah, and so many more reverse osmosis plants, blah, blah blah. It’s all a Brer Anancy story, designed to placate us. The promised increased water supply is NOT reflected in a reliable supply of water at our faucets. Talk about Grimm Brothers Fairy Tales – our Administration’s promises are of the same sort – they are not grounded in reality, and we are being jerked around.
Consider, if you will, the latest litany of ‘jerk-around’ talk by this sorry Administration. We were told in the Cabinet notes of Wednesday August 23, 2023, the following: “The Cabinet invited the Director of Public Works, Deputy Director and Chairman of the DCA to report on several road projects that are now underway, in St. John’s and Cades Bay. The Anchorage Road is likely to be completed by the end of August, and the Cades Bay Bridge will follow shortly thereafter. The Ministry of Works is also charged with fencing the Bolans Playing Field and constructing change rooms and bathrooms. The Ministry is also charged with fencing the designated Public Cemetery at Tomlinson’s, to ready it for receiving burials. The Boys Training School is almost ready for occupancy; it is estimated that it will be completed by the second week of September.” NONE of this has materialised, and NONE of this is like to materialise in the timelines so flippantly given. So sad! We cannot rely on a single blessed word uttered by those in high places.
Case in point, in the very same Cabinet notes, item number ten, the writer states, “The Festival Commission will sponsor a small delegation to join the Antigua and Barbuda diaspora in New York to celebrate Antigua Day on the Labour Day weekend, September 2 – 4. The Delegation will begin the promotion of Antigua Carnival 2024.” Sigh!As we all know, this NEVER happened. The members of the Hells Gate Steel Orchestra, and a number of others, were all packed and gathered to depart from the Sir V C Bird Airport this past week, destination New York, only to be told that no tickets were purchased for them, and no arrangements had been made for their trip by those in high place in this two-bit Administration. The Antigua delegation never made it to celebrate Antigua Day.
Folks, we are in a bad way. No wonder investors shun us. (See the long list of possible investors at the beginning of this article). And we are willing to wager that these two new promised investments, so gleefully announced by He of a High Place, will go the way of the others. Puff! Seems, after many exploratory talks with our leaders, the prospective investors are none-too-thrilled to do business here. They walk away and never look back.
As regards the latest wonderful announcements from He of a High Place about Half Moon Bay and Barbuda, we will believe them when we see them. Yes, we are quite cynical and jaded.
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