Editorial – January 4, 2013:
As the New Year 2013 opens, it brings down the curtains on the celebration of another festival, only this time it was the jubilee festival talked about and planned for, perhaps in hindsight a little too late. Montserrat Festival 50, a cultural festival, supposed to have been a homecoming for many nationals now living around the world, who were forced to migrate after volcanic activity began in July 1995, as well as bringing back some of the allurement that made it an economic year end/beginning for Montserrat.
It is of course early, if we would ever know whether all desires and goals were achieved, but whichever way that is, it would be unsafe to judge based on the comments and reviews that have been so far expressed. This is so because we have found that depending on who is asking and who is listening, ad even who is speaking, it will be that there were some disappointed visitors and promoters, add hopefuls (positive and negatives) to the mix.
If the events and shows left anyone wanting, the winding down or climax sent everyone away believing there was good much hope for even better in the years to come. The feelings were that the parade of troupes which outnumbered previous years gave a feeling of some joy and splendour to those participating, observing and those speculating!
Among the plans for the festival, because it was hoped that many of those coming back and visiting would include those interested in the future development and those planning or desiring to return to the paradise they once knew, there would be the showcasing of plans and potentials especially surrounding the Little Bay development, new town and port developments, and of course Montserrat in general.
Tours were organised as well as forums for showing plans and hearing or sharing the thoughts from the Diaspora as well as the expectations of those at home. Reports from the tours were glowing, but it would appear the forums did not achieve much.
In any case, as far as our exposure to the developments in that regard, many were left unclear to the point of thinking, that overall, there isn’t clarity as to exactly what the plans really are. Part of that must have been the inability to show and say exactly what the port will be like since to date the plans had to be redone and only 60% complete, that infrastructure being an absolute necessity to the island.
As we listen to all that have been touted, including the economic boost of producing tobacco products that will aid in slowly annihilating those outside of Montserrat, including Montserratians who smoke out there, the development of Little Bay and its environs, with the exception of the port development which should really include the airport, given serious thought, our planners are still missing the boat.
If Montserrat is serious about real economic development, for a progressive, productive future, there are a few things we very humbly suggest that should be considered and effected seriously and soon.
Actively seek to construct a permanent and effective airport that can eventually take a dash-8 or its equivalent. That will open up the Silver Hills, Rendezvous, (this area is the other part of Montserrat’s ‘gold mine’); the ferry is not a viable plan into the future without numbers of regular day tours and other tourism geared events. Get the Vue Pointe Hotel, (conference services etc.) and its environs back into active service. Recapture what worked and build from there.
They are already 60% in the design stage of a port (an absolute necessity), a town will evolve; the plan if it involves the US$2 million dollar properties overlooking the port and the town would be artificial, suspect and misunderstanding the wealthy and their tourist, holiday needs and what Montserrat can offer. The extravagance cannot really appeal to the local wealth, it is very small and the bids are expensive. Many so called businesses have not yet had the refunding via recovery of losses experienced from 16 years ago. Take the 5-star hotel to Rendezvous while Silver Hills is developed, airport, golf course, residential villas to support. Make our port a transshipment one, it is said to be the most ideally placed in the region, Freeport… Pay a visit to Dover in the UK. Continue to develop from Cudjoe Head down to Carrs Bay, even a mall of some kind can line the lane coming down, the market can be developed into the beginning of a mall. Let the minds of those who feel settled and comfortable think about their children, cut the selfishness and greed. We can feed ourselves, cut the imports, use the fruits.
This is a rough… It is principally wrong to be concentrating so much on plans that are proving difficult to sell except that the deception continues where these plans do not honestly include the Montserrat almost non-existent private sector. Moreover, when will these materialize, while geothermal comes and meet us not ready? Make holistic plans and let the vision be well known.