July 6, 2020

The Editor speaks: There are more questions than answers

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Colin Wilson

Do some of you remember the popular Johnny Nash song of yesteryear, “There are more questions than answers”?

The Chorus goes:

“Pictures in my mind I will not show

There are more questions than answers

And the more I find out the less I know

Yeah the more I find out the less I know”

It should be played at all the Government’s public meetings they are having around our Islands to try and encourage voters to say ‘Yes’ to the Port Berthing Facility at next month’s Referendum.

The verses contain the lines:

“Oh what is life?

How do we live?

Oh what should we take and how much should we give?”

Why the government panel that included both Premier, Alden McLaughlin, and Deputy Premier, Moses Kirkconnell, decided on this campaign, without being fully prepared is a mystery. They must have thought by insisting on questions being submitted in writing, instead of allowing questions from the floor, would have been safer. It wasn’t.

They received so many written questions they were unable to answer all of them.

Not that it mattered. They couldn’t fully answer most of them and the majority of questions being asked were the same ones that had been asked before.

The panel also included the tourism chief officer and reps from the cruise line and Verdant Isle, the company that won the bid to execute the construction work.

I found it interesting that the opposers of the project are claiming the Referendum, therefore, should be postponed because there are, now, more questions than answers. All along they have been claiming government were stalling on them putting off the referendum date!

Government, in turn, were telling the public if they were for the project they needn’t vote, as all non voters on the Electoral role would be counted as a ‘Yes’ vote. Now, they are encouraging everyone who is for the project to come out and vote ‘Yes’.

In fact, the whole of government’s approach and PR has been a massive failure.

They certainly have adopted the last line of the song I quoted above:

“Oh what should we take and how much should we give?”

Answer: As little as possible.

I fully endorse the premier, however, when he refused to answer the question about Carnival’s poor track record on pollution, and the cruise line having to face criminal charges plus large fines, saying they were “ridiculous”. However, he lost a golden opportunity to say how the mega- ships that would now come here if the berthing facility goes ahead, would provide much less pollution!

To admit to everyone at the meetings, that they don’t have all the answers yet until after the Referendum, is almost amounting to trying to commit suicide. Some of the press there at the meeting that is mainly opposed to the project have had a field day with that!

The final business case, that should set out clearly and precisely the justification for the project, will not be ready until the first quarter of next year.. I expect it will be longer than that.

The environmental assessment and geotechnical studies, which are the most critical and the ones the non cruise berthing facility crowd have been exploiting are nowhere near ready.

A question I want to ask the group behind the Referendum is what is the real reason they don’t want the cruise berthing facility?

One thing I am certain of, it is nothing to do with the impact the work on the marine environment the construction will create, or the damage to the coral and wreck relocations, nor how the management of the silt and sedimentation will be done.

They were the ones that pushed for a Referendum under the pretext of just wanting more information on it, like we all did. What people actually signed was a big “NO” to the project.

Now what have we got?

More questions than answers!

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