The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is no exception. Mr Erasmus Williams, Press Secretary to the Prime Minister the Right Hon Dr Denzil Douglas churns out on average three to four press releases a day, all them detailing how the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party-led administration is working to make life better for all. He is without doubt the doyen of the Federation’s journalists, not just because of his position but because of his proficiency.
Mr Mervin Hanley is the Press Secretary for Nevis’ opposition Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM). It is alleged that he does not live on Nevis, but with the advent of the digital age, his absence is never a handicap as he has been known to churn out some most up to date press releases on what is happening, and sometimes what is not happening, in Nevis.
Just like Mr Erasmus Williams, Mr Mervin Hanley works hard, day and night, and on public holidays. That is a fact which cannot be disputed as stories posted on the internet are automatically date-stamped. This being the case, in the morning of April 9 at 12:14 am which was Easter Monday, Mr Hanley posted an interesting article on Nevis Politics, a CCM website.
The article was headlined: ‘American Eagle NO more to and from San Juan, Puerto Rico’. The hard worker he is, Mr Hanley was up at 14 minutes past midnight to educate the public on the facts behind an impending withdrawal of American Eagle from services out of its hub in San Juan. In the absence of another by-line or acknowledgement, it is assumed that he researched and wrote the educative story.
The article is quite revealing as it mentions of earlier withdrawals of service by American Eagle: “In 2010 American instituted more cuts, with American Eagle’s departures falling to 23 in part through the elimination of flights to Anguilla, Port of Spain Trinidad, Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Other destinations that have been eliminated include Bonaire, Canouan, Curacao, Nevis and St. Maarten.”
Thank God for Press Secretary Hanley as the article he posted on Easter Monday morning, has exposed CCM’s folly after they would have roundly condemned the Nevis Reformation Party-led Nevis Island Administration, with barbs being directed at the Minister of Tourism, who apparently is the Premier of Nevis, the Hon Joseph Parry, for allegedly not marketing Nevis leading to the airline’s withdrawal.
There was an orchestrated song and dance, from CCM’s corner, accusing the NRP-led government of forcing residents to ‘bang water’ travelling to St. Kitts to catch planes to Puerto Rico out of the Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw airport. While it was their constitutional right to voice their concerns, they were not able explain if it was Premier Parry who attributed to the airline’s withdrawal from the other destinations.
No blame was put on the Prime Minister of Caribbean’s economic powerhouse and oil rich, Trinidad and Tobago, Hon Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Her country was among those affected. Popular Dutch holiday destinations of Bonaire, Curacao and neighbouring St. Maarten were also cut off. Did the Blue Machine say a word about those destinations? But they had a mouthful to broadcast about their own island Nevis, to make a good government look bad.
A Press Secretary who chooses to inform the public by feeding it with the right information is a gem. Mr Hanley is in that league, having disseminated information that educated those in Nevis to know that the withdrawal of services from Puerto Rico by American Eagle did not target Nevis alone. A couple of airports in the region (and USA as well) got hit too.
Information put on Nevis Politics by CCM’s Press Secretary has exonerated the hardworking NRP-led Nevis Island Administration. The problem is with the parent airline, American Airlines which is going through a Chapter 11 restructuring exercise. But unfortunately for the CCM hierarchy and its followers, its own Press Secretary has exposed the party’s folly. They say only when wind blow…….
The press release by Mr Hanley has further news, and the reason for posting it on their website. American Eagle will be grounded after a phase-out period that ends in March 2013. The same release says that Cape Air will be filling the void by flying to Puerto Rico from airports American Eagle has abandoned or has plans to abandon.
According to the release, “Cape Air has also moved in to fill the void vacated by Executive on flights to Nevis and Anguilla, operating those routes with 9-seat Cessna 402 piston aircraft.” It means that no Nevisian who wants to travel to Puerto Rico will have to ‘bang water’ to the RLB Airport, not unless their interest is to watch the scenic Monkey Hill from the airport in St. Kitts.
Thank you Mr Hanley for belatedly informing Nevisians that they do not have to ‘bang water’ to go to St. Kitts to catch a plane for Puerto Rico. Reporting the positive on a timely basis was Premier Parry’s Press Secretary Ms Deli Caines who had already put out information to the public that Cape Air first landed at New Castle on November 11, 2011. American Eagle had discontinued its flights early April 2011.
Press Secretary Caines did her duties diligently and informed the public that American Eagle’s discontinuing of flights was not only to Nevis but to the region. She added that the NRP-led Nevis Island Administration had worked hard to ensure that the void left had been filled in quickly, ensuring that Nevisians and residents were not unduly inconvenienced.
Since December 2011, Air Sunshine has connected Nevis with Puerto Rico, operating four flights a week through Tortola. Nevisians do not ‘bang water’ but take passenger boats or the Sea Bridge car ferry to comfortably travel to St. Kitts if they must.
Press Secretary Ms Deli Caines showed what development journalism is all about when she led with a scoop following an announcement early 2009 by the St. Maarten-based Windward Islands Airways International N.V. (WINAIR) that it was withdrawing flights to four destinations, Nevis, Dominica, Tortola, and St. Kitts.
The Dominica route was withdrawn on March 1, 2009, while the Tortola and St. Kitts routes were closed on March 31, 2009. However, the Nevis route was not closed, and WINAIR still operates to Nevis one flight a day. How is this so?
This is how Press Secretary Caines reported, here quoting WINAIR’s Managing Director Mr Edwin Hodge: “The attempts and efforts made by the Government of Nevis demonstrate the excellent and long term relationship that both WINAIR and Nevis have shared over the years. Therefore, I commend Premier Parry and his team of officials for their efforts and significant work in saving the route as they understand the importance that WINAIR has been playing within the community.”
What had happened was that after notice of the impending closure of the four routes by WINAIR, the proactive Nevis Reformation Party-led Nevis Island Administration swung into action, with Premier and Minister of Tourism the Hon Joseph Parry saying that maintaining a reliable, scheduled air link between Nevis and St. Maarten was in the best interest of the island and its people.
Two officials, Tourism Adviser Mr Alistair Yearwood and Tourism Officer with the Nevis Tourism Authority Ms Julie Claxton were despatched to St. Maarten to negotiate with WINAIR, and the result was that of the four destinations that WINAIR wanted to axe, Nevis was spared.
Truth be told that since St. Maarten is a popular shopping destination, Kittitians travel over to Nevis to catch the St. Maarten bound plane at Newcastle. They do not ‘bang water’. Accomplished journalist, Voice of Nevis Radio’s (VON) Mr Marcellus Lee on Monday morning (April 16) while reading the daily ‘Thought for the Day’, told his listeners: “To know the truth is good; to proclaim the truth is better; to practise the truth is the best.”