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Bigger Biggs Trucking and Construction Company issue: the next step

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Fri, Nov 14, 2014

Editor: The debate on the closure of the Bigger Biggs aggregate mining at Rabacca by SR&O #2 of 2011 has come full circle with a media conference at the Methodist Church Hall on Wednesday, November 12, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.{{more}}

I chose to write this article in response to the question posed by the very respected journalist Mr Kenton Chance: “What did the company hope to achieve through the media conference and what was the next step?” A very pertinent question indeed, and I suppose that Mr Chance, having given extensive coverage to the story, is ready to move on. That is the very nature of things when they do not affect us in a personal way. The matter is unresolved, but it is time to move on. But moving on without the substantive matter being resolved is surely not in the interest of the company and the society as a whole, unless we miss the fundamental principles at the heart of this struggle: the right to own and enjoy one’s property, freedom of expression, equality before the law, reasonableness and justice. We are too young a nation to sweep these things under the carpet.

Why the media conference? Primarily, it was geared to clarify information which was provided to and by the media from different sources. Secondarily, it is the principled approach that the company has adopted in finding a solution to the closure of its business. Many are the voices which have questioned why doesn’t the company take the Government to court? But the very courts sometimes ask if the protagonists could not settle the matter out of courts. We are pre-empting that by exhausting every avenue to resolve this issue outside of the judiciary. We have engaged those we are convinced have erred on a one on one basis. We have now formally engaged another party to hear the matter, and there are other levels to which we would go should the issue remain unresolved. But I believe that such steps would not be necessary. Why? Because we are better informed now, and we are a reasonable people. The summarized information, as expressed in print and other media is as follows:

An “Environmental Engineer” advised the Physical Planning and Development Board (PPDB) that the extraction of aggregates by Bigger Trucking and Construction Company at Rabacca was environmentally detrimental.

Consequently, the PPDB advised the Cabinet of Ministers of the imminent threat to the bridge-link between the north eastern communities, and the rest of St Vincent.

The Cabinet of Ministers, acting in a responsible and caring manner, used its authority to immediately close the Bigger Biggs business through the issuance of the SR&O #2 of 2011.

The subsequent dialogue that ensued revealed that the environmental engineer’s information was seriously flawed, and it is logical to conclude that the decision which emanated from this “un-factual” report was not the best decision.

The PPDB therefore, with its 12 eminent technical official members and the three competent ex-officio members, being cognizant that the imminent environmental threat was not there, and acting under the Town and Country Planning legislation (CAP 334 of the Revised laws of SVG 2009), approved the re-application of Bigger’s company to resume its activities at its Rabacca holdings.

The National Social and Economic Development Plan 2013-2025 postulates a new economy where the public sector, private sector and the cooperatives will play key roles and provide the synergies to create employment, reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for all Vincentians. Bigger Biggs’ company has the potential to be a major private sector contributor to make this a reality.

This current administration, which by its own admission has championed the cause of the poor, righted historical wrongs, and is leading the international cause of reparation, cannot afford to have this “fly in the ointment.” One can concentrate so much on the forest that the one affected tree is ignored, and it is that one tree which subsequently leads to the ruin of the whole forest.

Therefore, my friend, Mr Kenton Chance, the next step is for the Cabinet of Ministers to take the honourable, reasonable, and ethical action to remove all the other obstacles that will prevent Bigger Trucking and Construction Company from resuming its business.

Philmore Isaacs

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