Mr Theodore Hobson has signalled that his family will frustrate the project, while Mr Elton Marcus Hull has been campaigning for the project to be sited elsewhere claiming that the building will put a damper on Nevis’ tourism product.
Of the two, at least Mr Hull has some credence in his ill-advised crusade as he has been very consistent in his opposition. Mr Theodore Hobson was the Legal Advisor to the CCM-led Nevis Island Administration when Gallows Bay was first broached as the project’s location. He said nothing, at least publicly.
After the NRP-led administration renegotiated with the Japanese, not less than six consultation meetings were held with the communities. Mr Hobson did not attend any of them. However there is evidence that Mr Hull attended at least three and gate-crashed one meant for fishers only, forcing it to be postponed.
But his argument that the building will not be compatible with the Nevis tourism product shows how ignorant he is. Fishing is a Nevisian culture and there is nothing wrong with putting up the project where tourists could see what Nevisians do.
He boasts of being a well travelled man, but is he aware that fish markets in Japan are great tourist attractions? He says he has lived in Canada. How about the fishing activities in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick that were featured on the BBC only this May?
Mr Hull’s other contention is that the building will be too ugly. This is as ridiculous as the real reason that is being propagated by the CCM activists to oppose the project. The project will actually block from view the unsightly fuel tanks at Gallows Bay.
Having realised that he had shot himself in the foot, Mr Hobson came on the Let’s Talk Programme on Tuesday May 15 and apologetically offered the following explanation: “Most people with the exception of myself are in favour of geothermal. As for me from the very beginning I was not in favour of it.”
That is as clean as they come, but it is hoped that when he said ‘from the very beginning’ he meant when the CCM was broaching the geothermal subject. However, Mr Hobson’s letter was not about geothermal but the fisheries project which he knew had been planned for Gallows Bay, yet only woke up when he learnt that the Japanese were ready to release the EC$30 million.
Mr Hobson added, and was supported by Mr Amba Trott, that the project would interfere with the environment. He however says that his family has lined-up a project for that area. One is left to wonder: If the fisheries complex will mess with the environment, what about his relatives’ project?
According to Mr Trott, the idea of opposing the project is “to preserve the whole of Gallows Bay area for the public beach and ancillary development.” There is nothing wrong with his contention, but is he aware of plans the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society (NHCS) had for the area?
Former Director of Fisheries Captain Arthur Anslyn had told me early in May that there had been plans by the NHCS, with funds from the European Union, to convert the Bogs into an eco-trail, where people could go for walks and bird watching. However, funds dried up and the project did not materialise.
On Wednesday May 2, the Nevis Island Assembly passed the Nevis Heritage and Conservation Trust Ordinance, 2012 which would now allow the NHCS to attract funding, develop designated areas and conserve the areas and also to promote tourism on the island of Nevis.
Captain Anslyn had said that the beach at Gallows Bay is right now in danger of being eroded by the sea: “You won’t be surprised to find that sooner than later the sea will be in the bogs, because this is what has been happening over the years and it is not going to be long, depending how many groundswells we have, that the sea will end up in the bogs.”
Since the NHCS is a Trust with powers to look for funds, I was heartened when I heard a news item on VON Radio on Friday May 25 (repeated on Monday morning May 28) saying that the Japanese government is playing a supporting role in the fortification of the East Demerara Water Conservancy in Guyana.
The news which was also published by the online news agency Caribbean News Now, stated: “The support of the Japanese is based on a US$6.7 million joint declaration on enhanced co-operation in environment and climate change issues that were made between the two countries after former President Bharrat Jagdeo and then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met in 2007.”
With the NHCS having the powers to seek funds, I do not see the reason why they cannot approach the Japanese to fund the project they had earmarked for the Bogs. With the Japanese having an interest in the area, and is a country that is well known for building sea defences, I can see the Bogs eco-trail project springing back to life and that way Gallows Bay will be saved.
But can the Japanese respond favourably with the hostile attacks including by Mr Amba Trott who praised the Greenpeace organisation for opposing the Japanese? My prayer is that if the NHCS were to approach the Japanese in seeking to revive the Bogs Project, that they would overlook all these unpatriotic voices.
It is hard to accept, but the very people who are fighting the Japanese have been fighting the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society from the days the CCM was in government.
What does the opposition CCM think of the NHCS? On the Let’s Talk Programme on Tuesday May 8, heavyweight panellist Mr Conrad ‘Nyah’ Liburd announced, “I just wanted to make reference to the fact that the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society is now a statutory trust….”
He could not even finish what he wanted to say as he was interrupted by Mr Theodore Hobson who sounded very alarmed, “it is? From when?” As Mr Liburd was informing him that there was a House of Assembly meeting, Mr Edric Stanley cut in and said, “They did.”
The show almost degenerated into a Tower of Babel affair, hard to know who was saying what, but Mr Liburd’s voice came out clear and informed the others that “it is a very significant development in a sense the society has been going ….they have encouraged that really, of course we the people are often concerned with the politicisation of such a society….”
Mr Elton Marcus Hull jumped in and demanded to know “was the bill passed to make that a statutory trust?” Liburd replied: “It was tabled, I suppose…” But Mr Hull did not even allow him to finish, as he said, “You know Webbo (Mr Evered Herbert, the show host) that is something that I have looked at and to make this thing a statutory trust, you need to have a lot of precaution in place for that…”
Mr Hobson cut in “Of course. In this particular case…” Mr Hull made attempts to cut in, but Mr Hobson continued “they will be dealing with a lot of properties…” It was uncharacteristic of the show host to lose control, but this time he did. Mr Edric Stanley also cut in and it is rather hard to comprehend what he was saying, but finally he was heard to say “Let me ask Ted to…, Webbo, why the CCM government avoided granting them….”
Mr Hull was heard to say “for the very same reason,” but then Mr Hobson overrode him and said: “For the very same reason. We (CCM) were very low to put foreigners in charge of government property… but they want certain properties to be put in their hands so that they could develop it and so forth.”
Mr Stanley cut in and informed him “but there are a lot of Nevisians who are members of Historical and Conservation Society, but now it has been legislated …..” Mr Hobson who had earlier expressed surprise as if he was not aware of it cut in and said: “My understanding is just the first reading…”
One would be profusely excused if he got the impression that it was a fish market. Mr Hull cut in and gave a stern warning: “Webbo, I think what Nevisians need to do, need to understand, putting your historical things in a national trust is not just sitting down and talking about it.
“They need to discuss with the people of Nevis so that they fully understand what is going on…. it is not just two guys or five guys going into the parliament and passing a bill and saying this is now a national trust, but it means all those historical place (sic) are in the hands of other people other than Nevisians.”
He was cut in by Mr Stanley, but this time he fought back, “let me finish please, Stanley, is other than Nevisians, and without regulations in place if when they are in the hands of Nevisians, so that Nevisians still have some control…” Host Mr Herbert cut in and said: “Is that the way Mr Hull to suggest that it is in the hands of persons other than Nevisians, is that the correct statement?”
While the question was directed to Mr Hull, Mr Hobson answered and agreed it was not “a correct statement in the totality but, …… at the time the people who were, in our (CCM) days, people who were in charge of Nevis Historical Society were all… were mostly foreigners….”
Another interruption and Mr Hull said, “Webbo, what I am saying to you is this: If they passed this without certain regulations, at the end of the day all these properties can end up in the hands of people who are not Nevisians, because once they put it outside of any kind of government control, because remember the government even though some people do not understand it, belongs to the people, and once a national trust has nothing to do with them, it is in other control and therefore when other people are elected as chairman of the board, they are the one who control it.”
Saved by the Bell: Mercifully the heated interaction was brought to a halt by lack of time and as a warning the host started playing the show’s signature tune while Mr Hull was still talking, and then announced: “That is the final word. This is talk that gets results; join us tomorrow morning at 10:00 o’clock following the VON News Minute for a repeat of this edition.”
The Nevis Island Assembly sitting on May 2 was well attended by friends and supporters of the NHCS and they realised that the NRP-led administration was actually empowering the society. The CCM when in power was opposed to the NHCS, as Mr Hobson who was the legal advisor has admitted. They are opposed to the Japanese-funded fisheries project, and then they are against the NHCS being made a trust.
What does the CCM want for the people of Nevis?