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Bigger Biggs set on getting business up and running again

Bigger Biggs set on getting business up and running again

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Owner of Bigger Trucking and Blocks Construction Co Leon ‘Bigger Biggs’ Samuel says his legal team always knew they did not require a quarry licence to mine aggregate at Rabacca, but acceded to the Government’s order to get one anyway.

The businessman revealed this on Saturday, February 14, at his construction site {{more}}at Rabacca, during a media briefing and tour of the property — four years after the State officially revoked his mining licence.

Samuel was at the time responding to a question as to why did it take his legal team four years to figure out that they did not need a quarry licence to mine aggregate.

“To be honest, I don’t know how to answer that, because it took the Government four years to figure out that I don’t need a quarry licence, because what we are doing out here is not really quarrying in its true sense. What we have going on out here is actual sand and gravel. You are going to find boulders here and there during a time of mining,” he said.

“We do not use explosives. According to the quarry laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines, you will be categorized as a quarry because you are using explosives… Because of the nature of our material here, we have never [done] it before and will never need to use explosives,” Samuel explained.

In 2011, the Physical Planning and Development Board revoked permission for Samuel and his company to conduct mining on lands at Rabacca, on the grounds that his company was not adhering to the stipulations in the Environmental Management Plan.

During the wrap-up of the 2015 Budget earlier this month, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves read a letter addressed to him and signed by Samuel’s technical team — Philmore Isaacs, Pastor Providence and Marlon Mills, regarding the restoration of his business.

“…Coming out of our discussions, we understand that a consensus was reached on [Minister of Works] Senator [Julian] Francis’ view that there is no requirement for a quarry licence to be issued after all and that this is a correct approach,” the Prime Minister read.

“As we understand it, a quarry licence is only required in conditions where blasting and the use of explosives are involved and only in circumstances where the area being mined is declared to be a mining quarry. As Senator Francis aptly pointed out, and this was confirmed by Mr Samuel, the mining operation conducted by Bigger Biggs Trucking and Blocks Company at Rabacca entails only excavation of aggregate and no blasting of boulders takes place during the course of operations.”

According to Samuel, his legal team did not err in any way and he noted that he has received the best legal advice.

“I wouldn’t say my legal team has failed. I believed I have been given the best legal advice. It was always our intention never really to take this matter to court… All of us thought this would have been rectified in about six months. We never knew it would have taken four years,” he said.

Furthermore, Samuel stated that his legal team advised him the way they did because they wanted to leave the door open for the matter to be resolved in the quickest possible time.

He admitted that his legal team knew that he did not need a quarry licence to mine, but because the Government said they needed one, they went along with it.

“…So that’s the reason why. We were just following along with the Government really,” he revealed.

Samuel also accused the Government and its technical team of being incompetent in their handling of the matter.

He said official invitations were sent to government officials, including the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, inviting them to the event on Saturday, but none of them showed up.

Asked if he will seek legal redress on the matter, Samuel said he believes that the media and his supporters will press the Government to restore his business.

He further stated that not only was it incompetence on the Government’s part, but also a political action.

“They used their incompetence in order to achieve the political action,” Samuel said.

He said it is his belief that the Government had a change of mind about their decision because of the persistence of the media and citizens of the country.

“The press never let up on this issue. They did a lot and the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The amount of people you are seeing here is a living testimony of what we can do as a people…”

While he will not be staging any further protest action soon, Samuel said his main focus right now is getting his business up and running again.

The same letter read by the Prime Minister in Parliament highlighted the Government’s commitment to facilitate technical and financial support for the restoration of the company’s operations.

While many socialized at the event, others were busy clearing vegetation from around a large derelict machine and spraying the area with a herbicide, as the process of restoration continues.

“Today’s ceremony is really to awaken people’s awareness about the condition of our equipment and begin the revival of Bigger Trucking,” Samuel said.

He also indicated that he has not yet received correspondence stating that he does not need a licence to mine.

Providing he receives the necessary finances, estimated to be in the millions, Samuel said it will take about a year before he can resume operations, adding that new machines will have to be bought.

As reporters continued questioning Samuel, supporters of the businessman became irate.

One woman asked, “Way them asking them question for?” while another woman said, “What kind of stupid questions they asking?”

In attendance were member of parliament for South Leeward Nigel Stephenson; leader of the Green Party Ivan O’Neal, and other supporters of Samuel.

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