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Biggs may resume mining, once he adheres to terms and conditions – Chief Engineer

Biggs may resume mining, once he adheres to terms and conditions – Chief Engineer

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Chief Engineer Brent Bailey says that he has no problem authorising local businessman Leon “Bigger Biggs” Samuel to return to mining at Rabacca, once Samuel adheres to specified terms and conditions.{{more}}

According to Bailey, the Physical Planning and Development Board (PPDB) was expected to meet yesterday (Thursday), and after that, a meeting would be held with Samuel, to discuss what he would have to agree to, in order to have his license to mine aggregate reinstated.

Bailey said Samuel’s matter is straightforward and should not have escalated into public protest.

“This is not a matter to talk on the road,” Bailey told SEARCHLIGHT.

He explained that he had indicated to Samuel that he would prefer to meet with him, along with the other members of the technical committee [of the PPDB], so that the members could outline to the businessman what is required of him.

“That’s what I told Mr Samuel.

“And once he adheres to the conditions, I have no problem giving him back his right to conduct business in the area,” Bailey said.

Samuel, however, contends that he is being pushed around by Bailey.

According to the businessman, he met with the chief engineer back in July, and after that meeting, he called Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who then advised him that he should speak to Anthony Bowman, the chief technical officer in the Ministry of Planning.

Samuel said when he was contacted and told that there would be a meeting, he immediately thought that the issue was going to be resolved, only to find out, when he showed up at the meeting, that Bailey was on leave.

Samuel said that he was irate, adding that he planned to demonstrate during the visit of the President of Taiwan to St Vincent and the Grenadines in August.

But while Bailey said that he did not want to respond to certain allegations made by Samuel, he said that the substantive matter is that the technical sub-committee of the PPDB is to meet to review the Government’s position in relation to Samuel being allowed to mine, and to see whether Samuel had complied with the requirements stated in the order of 2011, which revoked his mining permit.

Bailey said Samuel was required to remove the oil drums that he had on site, and take action to correct the soil that had been contaminated because of the spilt oil. Regarding areas of excavation, Bailey said that where there were unstable banks, Samuel was asked to trim them to a particular slope and ensure that vegetation was restored to those banks.

In relation to the farm access road which Samuel had blocked, Bailey said that although the businessman claims that the land on which the road runs is his, the survey map shows otherwise.

On September 5, 2012, Bailey ordered the Roads, Buildings and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) to remove a gate Samuel had placed across the access road.

When he spoke to SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, Bailey said Samuel came to visit him at his home back in July, and he told Samuel that his home was not the most appropriate place for discussing a Government matter.

“So, if that is what he means by me pushing him around, then yes, I did push him around — my private house you know, is my private house — it is not somewhere that I conduct Government’s business and it would be inappropriate for me to do so,” Bailey said.

The Prime Minister said in the House of Assembly last week that he was calling on Samuel to speak to the chief engineer. During that address, the Prime Minister said that Bailey and Bowman had provided him with a report which indicated that it was possible for mining to resume in the area; however, it must be under certain conditions.

“They provided a technical report to me and I saw on the basis of the technical report, it is possible for mining to resume, but it has to resume under certain specific conditions,” Gonsalves said.

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