Categorized | Columns, Features, Local, Opinions

SAN MY NING … OUR GOLDEN ELEPHANT

But Who Ouan De San, an De Lan?

 

by Man from Baker Hill

This year I celebrate 21 years as a columnist with the Montserrat Reporter Limited. Thanks to everybody! You have been good to me; your comments and appreciation have encouraged me over the years. Thank you!

And in spite of the obvious ageing, I shall continue to share my best thoughts and opinions with Montserratians. Be reminded though, my opinions are not facts, they are my thoughts; and they will not rearrange the truth of any event. Therefore I do not need to defend them. I share them.

I seek no office of influence…. I do not lust for power and leadership. Instead I seek to be of service to humanity; so I write. I am not in a hurry to be heard or seen. But I see, I hear, I feel… I meditate and if moved to share an opinion, I write. I seek no victory; I seek no condemnation; I make no judgement. I know that there are good times and bad times for every one of us; and I also know that neither good times nor bad times last forever, for each will pass in time. So in the meantime, I write to entertain.

Today I choose to write about one of our most important natural resource, ‘The sand brought down from the hot belly of the mountain’ for the devastated Montserratians.  And, I ask the following questions. Who owns the land? Who owns the sand? Who should benefit most from the sale of the volcanic materials?

For the time being, journey with me and consider my prying questions. Hop off if and when you want to, but I am happy to have you along, always.

My sister, who owns the sand… the sand that, came rushing hot from the belly of the mountain displacing many fearful Montserratians, even unborned, scattering them all over the world?

My brother, who owns the land… the land on which the sand , now cooled, is preserved as compensation for all the distressed  Montserratian souls , who in fear, dare not return to claim their share?

My government, who should benefit from sand mining? Yes… Who will benefit, Belham, Foxes Bay, Isles Bay Jetty, Quarries or Jack Boy Hill? Is this all foolishness, Legislation for mining, Physical Planning Act, Mining Vesting Act, Motor vehicles and Road traffic Act, DFID studies, Halcrow reports inconclusive, DLN, Tourism or Montserrat Property Owners Rights? Is this about Montserrat natural resource or licensing arrangement for mining sand on private lands?

And there are more questions. Is there a market for the Montserrat sand? How big is that market?  Is there enough sand to supply that market for 25 years?  Could Montserrat develop a very successful mining and quarry industry which will benefit every Montserratian?

Questions bring questions; and answers abound… because there is nothing new under the land, the sand or the sun.  If we are truthful to ourselves we will find precedence to the questions and for the answers.  Then we ought to do right to ourselves and determine sooner rather than later, who must benefit from Montserrat’s golden natural resource, de sand from de belly of we hot mountain.

And here begins… my opinion.

Montserratians have a right to know how much resource wealth is in the volcanic material on the land. If the volcanic sand is indeed as valuable as pure gold, then the revenue from that natural resource must make a difference to every Montserratian. It cannot be for the enterprising lucky few, no, not at all.

Again, if the sand is gold, why is the sand mining industry struggling to get off the ground, not withstanding the meagre rewards to the fortunate enterprising few?  If our sand is so valuable to the regional markets, why is it so difficult to get it to that market, not withstanding the absence of suitable docking facilities?

I believe that the entire sand mining and quarry processing business is obviously quite sophisticated (HMG, IMF even our own SDP architects say so) and so far we have not demonstrated that can handle it on our own. It seems we lack the expertise and capacity as in so many other areas to develop our volcanic material into an enterprise which can create financial rewards worthy of the abundant natural resource on the land.

So what is next, should we continue with our stance of almost do nothingness? Should we continue to parcel out our gold to a fortunate few?  Of course not!

Although our Premier and the Governor told us the Halcrow report is inconclusive, we must delve deeper into those reports to find solutions to or situation.

I read them for myself and I noticed that the Halcrow DFID report specifically mentioned two international organisations, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The report did not say much about them; but I believe that those two organisations hold the keys for the development of Montserrat sand mining and quarry industry.

The EITI was launched in 2002 by the then UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair. The EITI is grounded in the belief that prudent exploitation of natural resource (as our volcanic material) should provide the basis for sustainable economic growth (of undeveloped places Montserrat). The aim of the EITI is to increase transparency over payments by companies in mining industries to governments. These payments would be in the form of tax, royalties and other revenue related fees.

The IFC is the largest global development institution that focuses on private sector in states like Montserrat. The IFC creates opportunity for country and people to improve their situation; it provides financing and advisory services to ensure sustainable development.

It seems to me that the DFID Halcrow report pointed us to two institutions that can help us develop Montserrat sand mining industry. And the fact that Tony Blair, Claire Short and Valerie Amos were instrumental in launching EITI is reason enough for me to believe that the UK government is showing us another  way to develop the resources and that they would support Montserrat if we shift gear and seek to develop our sand mining and quarry industry to its full potential.

In fact if we revisit the purpose of the DFID study, we will see that it was to provide the Government of Montserrat with a clear government policy and regulatory framework to assist the development of a vibrant, dynamic and environmentally sustainable mining and quarrying sector.

 

So what is holding us back?  What business do we have with DLN of Barbados? Why pussy foot with a jetty at Isles Bay? Why are we boog-a-looing with the jetty in Plymouth?

 

Why even think about building a jetty in isles bay? How could the MCAP government ever consider Belham as a suitable site to process the volcanic material?  If the Premier considered the destruction at Jack Boy Hill by the so called Sand Miners due to the left over materials, he would never have opened the chapter on Isles Bay. How could the Premier overlook the ugliness that will be at Belham? Was Belham ever an option, except for making a quick buck before legislation gets on the books?

And what are we doing in Plymouth now? Is the existing jetty a suitable loading dock? Will Fort Ghaut mud flow again?  Or are we prepared to build a temporary loading facility at Sturge Park Bay?

It is Foxes Bay! It must be at Foxes bay that government will build the jetty.  The areas between Cork Hill, Richmond Hill and Foxes Bay can provide space for half a dozen quarries, comfortably enough to store raw materials, by products and finished products.

I am getting off track here. Let’s go back to the topic… San My ning, who owns de san an de lan?

Is it really 500 million tons of sand, and counting, up in Belham Ghaut?

If that is true, our Premier and his cabinet must be outa dem flipping minds.   How could they expect to give Montserrat GOLDEN resources to a few families? The MCAP government keep walling Montserratians in at every hill and valley. The development of the sand and quarry industry is much bigger than what the few players can handle.

I believe that the sand miners have gone as far as they possible can, with respect to developing the industry. I believe that they have been adequately rewarded so far for their enterprise. And I believe that it is full time for our government to grab the bull by the horn, even if includes their own, and seek appropriate assistance to develop the Montserrat Sand mining and Quarry industry to its greatest potential.

After all the san and de lan belongs to all the people of Montserrat; and we must develop the sand mining industry for the benefit of all Montserratians. It is our compensation for fearfully and tearfully running away from the Soufriere mountains.

Again, Premier Reuben, you have another silver opportunity to leave a lasting legacy with the people of Montserrat;  please seek the assistance of the UK Government to develop the Mining and Quarry industry so that it can be a real Golden Elephant for the people of Montserrat.

 

 

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

But Who Ouan De San, an De Lan?

 

by Man from Baker Hill

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This year I celebrate 21 years as a columnist with the Montserrat Reporter Limited. Thanks to everybody! You have been good to me; your comments and appreciation have encouraged me over the years. Thank you!

And in spite of the obvious ageing, I shall continue to share my best thoughts and opinions with Montserratians. Be reminded though, my opinions are not facts, they are my thoughts; and they will not rearrange the truth of any event. Therefore I do not need to defend them. I share them.

I seek no office of influence…. I do not lust for power and leadership. Instead I seek to be of service to humanity; so I write. I am not in a hurry to be heard or seen. But I see, I hear, I feel… I meditate and if moved to share an opinion, I write. I seek no victory; I seek no condemnation; I make no judgement. I know that there are good times and bad times for every one of us; and I also know that neither good times nor bad times last forever, for each will pass in time. So in the meantime, I write to entertain.

Today I choose to write about one of our most important natural resource, ‘The sand brought down from the hot belly of the mountain’ for the devastated Montserratians.  And, I ask the following questions. Who owns the land? Who owns the sand? Who should benefit most from the sale of the volcanic materials?

For the time being, journey with me and consider my prying questions. Hop off if and when you want to, but I am happy to have you along, always.

My sister, who owns the sand… the sand that, came rushing hot from the belly of the mountain displacing many fearful Montserratians, even unborned, scattering them all over the world?

My brother, who owns the land… the land on which the sand , now cooled, is preserved as compensation for all the distressed  Montserratian souls , who in fear, dare not return to claim their share?

My government, who should benefit from sand mining? Yes… Who will benefit, Belham, Foxes Bay, Isles Bay Jetty, Quarries or Jack Boy Hill? Is this all foolishness, Legislation for mining, Physical Planning Act, Mining Vesting Act, Motor vehicles and Road traffic Act, DFID studies, Halcrow reports inconclusive, DLN, Tourism or Montserrat Property Owners Rights? Is this about Montserrat natural resource or licensing arrangement for mining sand on private lands?

And there are more questions. Is there a market for the Montserrat sand? How big is that market?  Is there enough sand to supply that market for 25 years?  Could Montserrat develop a very successful mining and quarry industry which will benefit every Montserratian?

Questions bring questions; and answers abound… because there is nothing new under the land, the sand or the sun.  If we are truthful to ourselves we will find precedence to the questions and for the answers.  Then we ought to do right to ourselves and determine sooner rather than later, who must benefit from Montserrat’s golden natural resource, de sand from de belly of we hot mountain.

And here begins… my opinion.

Montserratians have a right to know how much resource wealth is in the volcanic material on the land. If the volcanic sand is indeed as valuable as pure gold, then the revenue from that natural resource must make a difference to every Montserratian. It cannot be for the enterprising lucky few, no, not at all.

Again, if the sand is gold, why is the sand mining industry struggling to get off the ground, not withstanding the meagre rewards to the fortunate enterprising few?  If our sand is so valuable to the regional markets, why is it so difficult to get it to that market, not withstanding the absence of suitable docking facilities?

I believe that the entire sand mining and quarry processing business is obviously quite sophisticated (HMG, IMF even our own SDP architects say so) and so far we have not demonstrated that can handle it on our own. It seems we lack the expertise and capacity as in so many other areas to develop our volcanic material into an enterprise which can create financial rewards worthy of the abundant natural resource on the land.

So what is next, should we continue with our stance of almost do nothingness? Should we continue to parcel out our gold to a fortunate few?  Of course not!

Although our Premier and the Governor told us the Halcrow report is inconclusive, we must delve deeper into those reports to find solutions to or situation.

I read them for myself and I noticed that the Halcrow DFID report specifically mentioned two international organisations, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The report did not say much about them; but I believe that those two organisations hold the keys for the development of Montserrat sand mining and quarry industry.

The EITI was launched in 2002 by the then UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair. The EITI is grounded in the belief that prudent exploitation of natural resource (as our volcanic material) should provide the basis for sustainable economic growth (of undeveloped places Montserrat). The aim of the EITI is to increase transparency over payments by companies in mining industries to governments. These payments would be in the form of tax, royalties and other revenue related fees.

The IFC is the largest global development institution that focuses on private sector in states like Montserrat. The IFC creates opportunity for country and people to improve their situation; it provides financing and advisory services to ensure sustainable development.

It seems to me that the DFID Halcrow report pointed us to two institutions that can help us develop Montserrat sand mining industry. And the fact that Tony Blair, Claire Short and Valerie Amos were instrumental in launching EITI is reason enough for me to believe that the UK government is showing us another  way to develop the resources and that they would support Montserrat if we shift gear and seek to develop our sand mining and quarry industry to its full potential.

In fact if we revisit the purpose of the DFID study, we will see that it was to provide the Government of Montserrat with a clear government policy and regulatory framework to assist the development of a vibrant, dynamic and environmentally sustainable mining and quarrying sector.

 

So what is holding us back?  What business do we have with DLN of Barbados? Why pussy foot with a jetty at Isles Bay? Why are we boog-a-looing with the jetty in Plymouth?

 

Why even think about building a jetty in isles bay? How could the MCAP government ever consider Belham as a suitable site to process the volcanic material?  If the Premier considered the destruction at Jack Boy Hill by the so called Sand Miners due to the left over materials, he would never have opened the chapter on Isles Bay. How could the Premier overlook the ugliness that will be at Belham? Was Belham ever an option, except for making a quick buck before legislation gets on the books?

And what are we doing in Plymouth now? Is the existing jetty a suitable loading dock? Will Fort Ghaut mud flow again?  Or are we prepared to build a temporary loading facility at Sturge Park Bay?

It is Foxes Bay! It must be at Foxes bay that government will build the jetty.  The areas between Cork Hill, Richmond Hill and Foxes Bay can provide space for half a dozen quarries, comfortably enough to store raw materials, by products and finished products.

I am getting off track here. Let’s go back to the topic… San My ning, who owns de san an de lan?

Is it really 500 million tons of sand, and counting, up in Belham Ghaut?

If that is true, our Premier and his cabinet must be outa dem flipping minds.   How could they expect to give Montserrat GOLDEN resources to a few families? The MCAP government keep walling Montserratians in at every hill and valley. The development of the sand and quarry industry is much bigger than what the few players can handle.

I believe that the sand miners have gone as far as they possible can, with respect to developing the industry. I believe that they have been adequately rewarded so far for their enterprise. And I believe that it is full time for our government to grab the bull by the horn, even if includes their own, and seek appropriate assistance to develop the Montserrat Sand mining and Quarry industry to its greatest potential.

After all the san and de lan belongs to all the people of Montserrat; and we must develop the sand mining industry for the benefit of all Montserratians. It is our compensation for fearfully and tearfully running away from the Soufriere mountains.

Again, Premier Reuben, you have another silver opportunity to leave a lasting legacy with the people of Montserrat;  please seek the assistance of the UK Government to develop the Mining and Quarry industry so that it can be a real Golden Elephant for the people of Montserrat.